Creative Commitment in Middle School Service Learning
At International School Bangkok (ISB), we recognize that creativity, commitment, and service-learning are all important aspects of developing adaptable and caring global citizens; this is fundamental to ensuring our students' success as leaders in both today’s and tomorrow’s world.
While the COVID-19 pandemic has certainly placed some limitations on how our students take part in service-learning, our Middle School (MS) students have risen to the challenge. They have come up with a variety of creative service-learning activities and initiatives, from learning to empathize with others to providing necessities to affect change.
Middle School students at ISB are the initiators and active participants of exceptional projects that serve to improve the lives of others. They have demonstrated their creativity, commitment, care, and adaptability in a wide variety of projects they’ve created in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Creative & Caring Service Clubs
Weekly Pets, a student-led Grade 7 club, wanted to help connect people who were alone during lockdown with companion pets so they wouldn’t be alone any longer. Each week, they work with a local animal shelter to get information on which pets are available for adoption, then share the information on the weekly MS "Good Morning" emails. So far, they have successfully completed four adoptions - including Suni.
Another club full of care is the MS COVID Relief Club had the idea to collect food baskets to donate to iCare through their advisory. This was combined with the Empathy Project, a six-day MS advisory lesson where students completed a series of simulations in which they had to "walk a mile in another's shoes." At the end of the lesson series, advisory students were asked to bring in one type of food so that together, all the Middle School advisories could build food packages for iCare Thailand to deliver to those who need them. One of the club members, Phoonseeraah (Ada), said, "one important lesson I learned is how grateful we should all be for having all the resources we need to survive, but also how impactful one community can be when we collaborate with each other to help those in need. One major ISB value this project represents is care. This project shows how one community is willing to help each other in these hard times by providing them with the things they need in order to survive."
Clubs are a valuable and practical way for our students to serve others - through fundraising, events (virtual or in-person), and through their passions and actions. One MS student, Pilar (Pili), had a creative idea to expand the food drives to provide more continued support. Pili said, “one idea I had was a weekly donation basket. Basically, there would be one basket in each advisory, and each week there would be a different topic for what you are donating and this would go on throughout the year, and at the end of each week, iCare would come to pick up what we collected and give it to the people in need. I got this idea because I know food baskets and donation baskets do exist but I always wondered how one-week donations would help people in need for a year, it would only help for a month and why only food so then I grab some cons and pros of this question I had and made it into a project.”
Our Green Panthers Club, a MS environmental club, is focusing locally this year and asking what we can do right here at school or at home to make changes to better the environment. They are currently working on developing a series of EcoChallenges for the Middle School, which help raise awareness of environmental issues and affect behavioral change. Punyanut (C.C.) is working on her fast-fashion EcoChallenge; she says, "Fast-fashion is now responsible for 10% of global carbon emissions and 20% of global wastewater. I want to research the ways we can make fashion sustainable yet still make people feel glamorous. Right now, I've learned that the answer to sustainable fashion is using biodegradable materials, such as wool, silk, linen, and hemp. Materials that use less water are organic and natural and don't contain any microplastics are the basic ingredients for sustainable clothing...I think that trying to find solutions to big problems like these; requires a lot of responsibility, commitment, creativity, and care. It's going to be a long journey, but knowing that I care about this issue helps me bring out the responsibility and commitment needed to achieve the solutions."
Other MS initiatives have included an iCare food/supplies drive, a jump rope fundraiser for OurLand, and a stair climbing competition fundraiser for iCare. When students picked up their laptops for ISB Virtual School at the beginning of the year, they were asked to donate food for iCare. Last year, our Elementary and Middle school students came together and jumped rope in the Jumping for Elephants fundraiser, raising 360,000 Baht in total for OurLand. OurLand functions as part of a corridor connecting wildlife from the Salakphra Wildlife Sanctuary to the River Kwae, and they needed funds to buy the land they were located on. This year, a similar model as the jump rope fundraiser was used for fundraising for iCare with the MS "Climb a Stair for iCare" virtual fundraiser. Students fundraised through sponsorship for how many stairs they could climb in their teams with the winning team climbing a combined total of 81,147 stairs. The virtual event raised a total of over 100,000 Baht for iCare. Next up is a coin competition between grade levels to fundraise for iCare as well as a blanket donation for the colder weather coming.
Students & Staff Support Local Communities
There is an extensive list of organizations that ISB and ISB students support through volunteering, skills development, fundraising, resource sharing. ISB staff also founded and continue to run the After the Wave (ATW) Foundation, a non-profit organization committed to supporting communities in the Phangna area that were affected by the 2004 Tsunami. ATW has an offshoot called Service in the Wild which aims to Enrich communities through education and service.
A couple of months ago, ATW worked with two Middle School students to help provide some tech to students in need through Service in the Wild. The students worked on refurbishing donated computers, and Service in the Wild helped connect them to students in need. Since the pandemic started, ATW has continued to offer support to students in need. They recently provided ten students with some financial support with their learning needs in liaison with local school and government officials in Nong Ya Plong near ISB's Environmental Wilderness Campus.
Today’s Values Create Tomorrow’s World
Whether globally or locally, ISB is value-driven through and through. Our Middle School students and After the Wave foundation have both demonstrated how much they care as well as how adaptable and creative they can be in continuing to support others through service. It’s this kind of commitment to enriching communities and developing globally-minded, creative, and value-driven students who can find meaningful solutions that make ISB one of the top international schools in Thailand.
Watch this space next week to see what exciting service projects our High School students have done!