It was great for me to hear this conversation which highlighted the awareness of even our youngest students to the challenges faced by children around the world who are not as fortunate as them. Our students have been really enthusiastic about our “Building Futures” fundraising drive for Nepal and are proudly sporting their brick badges and hair clips. But, importantly, this fundraising has been linked with focused lessons across the school about Natural Disasters as we feel strongly that the children need to understand what projects they are raising money for and what impact their donations will have. As global citizens we want to help students to understand about the causes and effects of poverty, and to learn about the importance of sustainable development. We want them to think and to act – in big and small ways.
This action means not just giving money but also giving up time to become involved in service projects. Our IB students are all engaged in “service” as part of their CAS (Community, Action, Service) requirements for their course and this service ranges from supporting sports teams and ECA’s, leading Charity initiatives at school, or volunteering each week at the local Migrant School. Our Year 12 students will also get involved in “hands on” service in Cambodia later this year working with the Starfish Foundation, while some of our Year 9 & 10 students will be heading off to Tanzania in January where they will work on a range of education and infrastructure projects to help a local school. Each of these acts of service will help others but hopefully will also have a positive impact on our own students.
There is a growing body of literature that shows a correlation between Service Learning and increased personal awareness, increased social awareness, and improved student learning outcomes. There are many examples of students becoming more altruistic and caring, growing more concerned about their community and community issues, and learning more in specific content areas such as social studies or specific subject matters such as the environmental science.
But as well as improving learning, there is lots of anecdotal evidence to show that happiness can be found in helping others. This was certainly the case last night when I joined group of secondary students on their weekly ECA at the migrant school. They were each working with their “buddy” (a primary school child in a very basic classroom with almost no resources) to make some creative clay models out of super cool quick dry clay in bright colours. Yes the school children were delighted with this fun task but the biggest smiles and laughs were from our secondary students as they got really excited playing with the clay themselves and sharing in the joy that this simple activity was bringing to their buddies. It was quite a powerful scene and a reminder to us all of how we can find happiness in quite simple acts of kindness.
There is a Chinese saying that goes: “If you want happiness for an hour, take a nap. If you want happiness for a day, go fishing. If you want happiness for a year, inherit a fortune. If you want happiness for a lifetime, help somebody.”
Thanks for your support with our charity and service initiatives.
Niki Meehan, Vice Principal