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IB CAS Students - what we learnt from Santa's Grotto

Thank you to all that have supported the Santa's Grotto and the Myanmar Project this year and many congratulations to the Year 12’s for their outstanding achievement.

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We asked 4 of the teams - Luisa Heine, Tania Parkhomova, Emily Cannon and Sabrina Zhang to sum up their IB CAS experience in organising the Santa's Grotto during the Christmas Fayre 2016,  and explain what the money raised will go towards.

1. How many students were involved?

25 Year 12 IB CAS students were involved in this year’s British School of Beijing's  Santa’s Grotto, with the help from Mr. and Mrs. Harrison. Emily Cannon

2. What preparation did you need to make?

We split ourselves up into three teams: Entertainment, Decoration and the Marketing and Finance team worked together.

  • The Entertainment team needed to come together to decide what activities would be appropriate for the children to do while they waited to meet Santa Claus. We felt that providing this would make the waiting more pleasurable for the children and their parents. We needed to find templates of what we wanted the children to do and get them printed out, ensuring we had the correct materials for these activities. On the night we sat with the children and helped keep the children entertained. Emily Cannon
  • The Decoration team was in charge of decorating our school’s Cookery room so it would look like a magical place. It was a tough job; we needed to decide how we were going to set up the room. We stayed behind after school on certain days to achieve this. We also decided to make our own fireplace, which took a long time as we made it out of cardboard boxes and had to paint it, it had to look realistic in the end. The decorating of the grotto was quite time demanding, we had to be very creative and cultivate something new out of what we already have. To be honest, we were not short on resources – we had just enough to decorate all of the Christmas trees and the fireplace. The difficulty was that at some point all of us had to gather together and use all of the baubles, lights and stockings we had to create the grotto. Luisa Heine and Tania Parkhomova
  • The Marketing and Finance team worked collaboratively for this school event. Together, we decided what would be the most appropriate present for the children and sorted out time slots for not only the students working on the Santa’s Grotto team but also for all the families that wanted to meet Santa. During all this preparation, we also needed to calculate the costs of the presents and the profit made. Emily Cannon
  • As a whole the most preparation needed was how the Santa’s grotto was going to be run. Together we made decisions on this.

3. What challenges did you face?

  • Entertainment team - The only issue we faced was finding age appropriate activities for the children, finding something to occupy the older children and the younger children. Emily Cannon
  • Finance and Marketing team - A challenge was definitely trying to figure out the time slots for the customers. We had to figure out how long each time with Santa had to be, to be able to get as many families as possible to see Santa during the length of time the Christmas Fayre was on for. Another challenge was whether we were spending too much money or if enough profit was being made. We had to ensure we had bought enough presents , even though we didn’t know how many children would turn up on the night. Emily Cannon
  • The Decoration team faced a unique challenge. We are all from different countries and cultures, and all have different perceptions of the perfect grotto. We had to work collaboratively.  Also the students involved in last years Santa’s Grotto had more time to prepare the grotto, we only had three weeks to plan and set everything up. So we had to rush some things a little more. Luisa Heine
  • All of us are IB students and we have a lot of educational concerns and school work which we had to complete but on top of that there was the grotto which had to be managed too. Sometimes it was a bit hard to arrange meetings and contact everyone in the group, but at the end we managed to overcome all of the challenges we faced and I am very glad that we did. Tania Parkhomova

4. In general, what is a child’s Santa’s Grotto experience like?

Personally, I have never experienced a meeting with Santa, but I’ve been observing children throughout the whole night and now I can confidently say that it is an amazing and unique experience. It is not only Santa himself, but the aura of the room: dim light, wrapped-up present boxes under the tree and the smell of cinnamon, all happen to be crucial for the child’s experience. Children were able to dive into the magical atmosphere of Christmas magic which left them excited, joyous and amazed for the rest of the day. Tania Parkhomova

5. What have you learn from the experience?

  • What we have learnt from this experience is very much related to the social aspect of it all. Everyone had to be able to communicate their own ideas on what they think should be done for the Santa’s grotto but also communicating with the customers: being confident with explaining the process and talking to the children. They learnt how to be committed to a team and work together as well, especially during the setting up of the grotto. They learnt how to persevere right until the end. Emily Cannon
  • Overall it was the most stressful thing that I’ve ever done, however I’m glad that I did it. It taught me leadership skills and I especially learnt how to communicate better with different people and delegate tasks. It was fun to make something by ourselves, that was successful and something that everyone was talking about. But the most amazing feeling was to see the children being really happy and excited to see Santa. It’s normally a cliché but you could actually see the children’s eyes glowing. And every stress is washed away when you see the beautiful grotto and see everyone just being amazed by everything that we have done and achieved. Luisa Heine
  • I have learnt that making children happy is a very special, yet a hard job to complete. It was not easy, but it not only made me feel like I did something useful but also the fact that we managed to make a lot of families happy. Tania Parkhomova
  • Of course this was all completed to make money for a charity of the students choice, their choice this year was The Myanmar Project.

6. What is the Myanmar Project?

The Myanmar Project is a student-led programme initiated by The British School of Beijing,  (BSB) Shunyi which aims to give educational support to underprivileged children and monks in Myanmar. This year, it is being run by four Y12 students: Brian Byun, Sunny Hwang, Kimbo Weng and Sabrina Zhang. It began last year with three of our seniors and we decided to continue and expand upon this project in order to ensure that the help those children received was not short term. We aim to provide educational support including teaching the subjects of English, Sports, and Art. We will also be providing financial support by delivering supplies such as (government issued textbooks, notebooks, pencils, desks…) as well as salary to unpaid teachers. 

Moreover, we would like to enrich our personal knowledge of the world by experiencing a different culture and we hope to increase our awareness about controversial issues on an international level. We chose Myanmar specifically because the recent earthquake they have suffered with the magnitude of 6.8 has resulted in households not being able to afford school for children. By teaching English, we hope children in Myanmar will have more opportunities opened up to them on a global scale. The message of ensuring a brighter future for those in need is also conveyed through our slogan: ‘Light tomorrow with today’. Sabrina Zhang

7. How much has been raised for this charity so far?

With one month before departure, the Myanmar group has successfully raised 47,150RMB, not including the Santa’s Grotto Project. This was achieved through donations from parents, teachers and visitors at BSB; donations from companies (Blue Star AMG and 沈阳新来福事有限公司);  generous funding’s from our school shop Chatterbox as well as money earned from a student-led Halloween Party. We are grateful for all the help that has been offered. With final collections and donations, including Santa’s Grotto, our estimation for the total amount of funds raised will be around 64,000RMB. Sabrina Zhang

Thank you to all that have supported the Santas Grotto and the Myanmar Project  this year and many congratulations to the Year 12’s for their outstanding achievement.

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