Nord Anglia Education
WRITTEN BY
Nord Anglia
12 January, 2022

NAIS Pudong shortlisted for the prestigious international schools awards

NAIS Pudong shortlisted for the prestigious international schools awards OPENING MINDS, OPENING LIVES (OMOL)- A NAIS PUDONG STUDENT INITIATIVE

The idea of forming a CAS project through which our IB students would engage in a meaningful activity to give back to the community was born when our school was approached by Future Foundations to join the Global Social Leaders competition. Two of the students and their families were already supporting children at the Nanyang Orphanage in Henan Province. This made the decision to work with their peers and formalise their support through a social enterprise, Opening Minds, Opening Lives (OMOL) a relatively easy one. 

Once the idea was rolled out and approved as a CAS project, there was no stopping the seven enthusiastic students who were keen to make a difference in the lives of the 400+ mentally and physically challenged orphans. Linking their project to United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 4 (Quality Education), they formulated a curriculum to offer bi-weekly bespoke English language and cultural immersion lessons to the children virtually. Their vision was to enhance the academic and social skillset of the orphans and equip them with tools and an identity that would help them fit into a fast-changing world easily. As would be expected, the team experienced initial teething problems when allocating tasks to each other and deciding appropriate meeting times to deliver the lessons collectively. They also needed to understand the key needs of their target market (the orphans) who despite being confined in the same space were of different ages and backgrounds. Some extensive research and constant communication with the leaders at the orphanage helped the team to craft a curriculum that best met the needs of the children. 

 

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Efforts to raise funds that would be utilised to procure equipment such as projectors and digital screens for the orphanage proved a challenge. At first, the OMOL members were reluctant to enlist more students to support them with their fundraising efforts as well as ensure continuity of the project once they graduate. After some deliberations and sometimes, disagreements, they embraced the idea and recruited eight students from the year group below theirs to take over OMOL. As founder members, they will continue to support and mentor their successors and hopefully, help them to extend their service and offering beyond the Nanyang Orphanage. Changes in Chinese government regulations regarding after school tuitions have impeded the new team’s efforts to kick-start live lessons. They are working on modalities to produce video-based, that can be watched by the children during their leisure time. They are also exploring other options that would promote the mental and economic well-being of the orphans. Luckily for them, they can now apply for funding from the NAE Foundation to resource the orphanage to the benefit of the disadvantaged children. In the process, these students are emerging as resilient and reflective learners to whom the interest of others comes before their own. 

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Being shortlisted in the Community Building category of the International Schools Awards offers a huge boost to morale not only of the founder members but also the new team. All 15 students involved so far agree that as much as they did not expect their entry to go this far, increased publicity will work in their favour as they seek to broaden awareness in the wider community. They hope that their success will act as an inspiration to other students within and beyond NAIS Pudong to step out of their comfort zones and be more proactive in supporting disadvantaged communities as an appreciation to the warm welcome they have received in their countries of residence.