At British International School, HCMC, we have a hardworking and dedicated department who organise community projects, clubs and events across all three of our campuses. Our community projects are not designed to just raise money; the goal is to develop students’ sense of social responsibility, towards other people and the environment making it an integral part of our students learning.
Our students learn that they can have the biggest impact on our community projects by spending their most precious resources: time and energy. They are encouraged to develop their skills and understanding of community throughout their time here, right from the Early Years Stage and all the way to the Sixth Form.
In September, our Community Department was encouraged to enter The British International School Awards which recognise excellence in British schools overseas. A month later we were told that we had been shortlisted for the Community Initiative of the Year Award for our work with Thien Phuoc Foster Home for Disabled Children, and we knew we were in good company!
“Being at the awards was a great experience. I have never been to such a prestigious event so I must admit there were a few nerves before! It was inspiring to see so many other schools being acknowledged for the amazing work they do, especially in their communities. We were aware of the other schools that had been shortlisted for the Community Initiative Award and knew that it would be close!” Clover Sharman, Community Service Project Manager
We first became aware of Thien Phuoc ten years ago, when a teacher at BIS HCMC was looking for an organisation to support. Initially, our relationship with Thien Phuoc was created as a way for students to increase their understanding of disabilities, as well as teaching them to not shy away from people who are different. It was the first project of it’s kind at BIS HCMC, but it has since become the template for many of our other initiatives across the whole school.
Thien Phuoc is a residential centre that provides healthcare, rehabilitation and education for children with Epilepsy, Cerebral Palsy and Down Syndrome. Back in 2007, Thien Phuoc was located inside a small residential house that helped around 40 children. Since it’s renovation in 2010, it houses over 60 children in need.
Over the years, our relationship with Thien Phuoc has continued to grow. We have developed areas where students, teachers and our Parent Teacher Group (PTG) can become more involved with sustainable, meaningful projects. For example, developing the centre itself by creating a teaching room, supplying it with resources as well as paying for emergency repairs to the rain damaged roof.
We now have a cross campus programme involving both primary and secondary students who regularly spend their time with the children at Thien Phuoc, as well as the long term financial support that comes from our PTG through events such as the Christmas BISzaar.
We didn’t win the overall award, but The British School Kathmandu were extremely deserving because of the sustained support that they provide to their community after the earthquake. Having our school’s dedication to community work gain international recognition has been a wonderful experience, but the work that this team do, and the overwhelming daily support provided by students, parents and teachers is the most rewarding prize of all.
When asked what is next for the community department, Clover Sharman, Community Service Project Manager said:
“Community Service is growing each year at BIS HCMC. Students are always keen to start new exciting initiatives as well as continuing our existing long term projects. There is a possibility that we will enter the awards again, as we are proud of our students and the work that they do to support their community on a local and global scale!”
Watch this space!
Lucy Glynn, Online Marketing Officer