Compassion and selflessness are virtues we hope our kids develop as they grow older. You’ll be glad to know that many international schools in Singapore offer service learning opportunities and community work projects where these values are taught, practised and ingrained. From working with local NGOs to teaching the less privileged, we hear from students about the meaningful projects they’ve been involved with.
Dulwich College (Singapore)
At Dulwich, supporting the community and active participation in projects to build better lives for others is central to the aim of developing students who will “Graduate Worldwise”. The school helps students understand world issues, process how they feel about them and think about what they can actively do about it. This attribute of “compassionate integrity” is part of the College’s Compassionate Systems Framework. The approach was recently recognised with an International Schools Award in January 2021. The programme consists of a set of classroom tools and approaches designed to develop students’ emotional literacy and systematic understanding of complex issues. One recent student involvement was a response to concerns about migrant workers living under lockdown.
“We had a conference call with the charity Transient Workers Count Too and asked them about ideas of trips and gifts that would make the migrant workers smile.” – Harman, Year 5
“We chose to use the money raised to send migrant workers on trips because they were stuck in dormitories in the pandemic. We wanted to organise trips to places they’d never been before and most importantly have fun!” – Lya, Year 4
Tanglin Trust School
Tanglin nurtures a sense of service in children from age three, developing understanding of local and global issues and how everyone can make a difference. There are many opportunities for meaningful engagement with the local community and beyond. By Senior School, charities and organisations are not only supported through year group, class and student-led initiatives, but also through the International Duke of Edinburgh (DoE) and Creativity, Activity and Service (CAS) projects.
A student shares….
“Through the CAS programme, I set up a series of health talks encompassing ‘Women’s Holistic Health’. I felt that all-staff forums would be beneficial in providing accurate information on chronic diseases and mental health in our community. To organise these, there were some hurdles such as finding accredited, reliable and open speakers, and some technical challenges due to going virtual. The women’s cancer talk attracted a wide audience, including students, faculty, support, operations and housekeeping staff. I believe it was successful in clearing up misconceptions, reducing apprehension about screening and highlighting steps to lower risks. I hope this initiative encourages more people to have regular screening and look out for signs and symptoms. More work can be done so everyone has the information needed for early detection.” – Rahul Aggarwal, Year 12
Stamford American International School
At SAIS, service learning is a key component in each student’s learning journey and all students are encouraged to either join a pre-existing service initiative or start their own club. Many students choose to create their own service clubs which allow them to advocate for causes they are passionate about. These allow them to use their strengths and skills to initiate change, not only within the school but in the greater global community. GK@Stamford is a student-led organisation working with Gawad Kalinga, an organisation that aims to tackle the issue of poverty in the Philippines. This initiative started as an individual project and has grown to be one of the largest student-led initiatives at Stamford.
A student shares….
“Helping others is a gift that anyone can afford to give. To raise awareness about poverty, I started a club to help needy kids in the Philippines. The pandemic did not hinder us from helping our cause. Through teamwork, we’ve created awareness through our website and completed a sports drive to promote mental health. ‘Gawad kalinga’ means ‘to give care’ and my aim is to create a dedicated community of caring individuals that will help the cause for the long-term.” – Luis Miguel, Grade 11
International Community School (Singapore)
Service learning is “impact in action” at International Community School (Singapore). In the past year, Elementary students took part in a variety of projects, from a trip to Hobby Club for the kindergarten classes to collecting trash on the beaches. Middle school students were paired with elementary students, organising activities for Christmas and discussing and planning future service. Over at the high school, students were unable to travel overseas for Week Without Walls so they planned a week-long service project that included local community projects and campus improvement works.
A student shares….
“Week Without Walls 2020 was an interesting experience for us. We were sceptical about whether a service learning programme on campus would be helpful to the community, but it turned out to be extremely fulfilling and rewarding. Each team had different tasks, such as painting, construction and even teaching the elementary students. Although it was extremely tiring, it was great to bond with our teams. We had to overcome our disappointment about WWW not being overseas, but I’m sure each of us will remember this special WWW. I personally learned that service doesn’t need to be a big gesture by serving in remote areas but can take place anywhere.” – Jemima Siu, Grade 11
Singapore American School
At Singapore American School, there are many opportunities for service for students, from kindergarten through to Grade 12, both at school and in the community. Many student-led initiatives have flourished over the years and new ones are constantly being created in response to local and global needs. Students are empowered to make a difference in their communities and develop a commitment to be a responsible global citizen from a young age.
A student shares….
“Working on the Executive Service Council for the past couple of years has helped me gain perspective on the resilience of SAS’s service community. More personally, the work I’ve been able to do for Gawad Kalinga, the service club I’m part of, has been refreshing as we push the boundaries of service. From performing music for 24 hours straight and creating a music video to running a Minecraft tournament, the current circumstances have given us the chance to do the unconventional. We’re lucky enough to have the resources to pursue our passion for service.” – Cal Galicia, Grade 12
GEMS World Academy
GEMS World Academy Singapore aims to develop internationally-minded and compassionate young people who want to make a difference in the world. Service learning is woven into the classroom curriculum and day-to-day experience. The school aims to inspire contribution to society by developing service ethos, entrepreneurial activities, leadership and critical thinking skills through projects requiring intercultural understanding and community building. Students are offered a good mix of cultural exposure, physical challenges, community engagement and service-as-action opportunities. During the pandemic, students have been engaged in projects across Singapore including monthly visits to an elderly home and fundraisers.
A student shares….
“GEMS students have been provided with great opportunities to serve the community, our region and other areas of need. I’ve had the opportunity to work with Putney Student Travel to support the less privileged community in the Dominican Republic. The aim was to set up a structured English programme for local children. We got involved in infrastructure development, from building classrooms to paving pathways and roads. Turning an idea into action and making the change has been the biggest challenge from the beginning. Today, I’m the Vice President of the GEMS Student Council. Service learning has helped me step out of my comfort zone, develop my communication skills, learn how to provide guidance and make things happen.” – Anjali Grillo, Grade 10
One World International School
One World International School is firmly committed to service learning. It offers a range of opportunities for students, from volunteering to be a Kindness Leader in Grade 5 and a Kindness Council member in Secondary School to service learning projects across Southeast Asia from Grade 3 onwards (pre-COVID). Service projects have included building a playground in a village, helping with a water storage system, mangrove conservation, beach clean-ups and much more. Students learn to engage with communities and understand the hardships of others and are empowered to contribute in a meaningful way.
A student shares….
“I’ve had many interesting CAS (Creativity, Activity and Service) experiences at OWIS over the years. My most recent experience was giving piano lessons to children at the beginner’s level. While I was nervous at first, I gained confidence with each new lesson. I’ve also come to understand that my students learn in different ways and I have to keep them engaged with a range of activities. I feel happy and proud of the progress they’ve made through my music lessons.” – Janelle Rego, Grade 12
Nanyang Campus: 21 Jurong West Street 81
East Coast Campus: Block G, 231 Mountbatten Road
Chatsworth International School
One of the key goals of a Chatsworth education is to develop global citizens who are responsible, respectful and compassionate. Service learning is an integral part of the curriculum. It starts in the classroom, allowing students to use academic knowledge and skills to address community needs within and outside the school. All year levels are involved, with the Middle Years Programme (MYP) having a more structured basis, choosing service groups to join yearly. While this has been affected by the pandemic, all MYP students still take part in service learning within their year group. Service groups range from raising funds for adopted charities to community projects and supporting school-based needs such as wellness and sports.
“We’re organising a school-wide Food Bank initiative to raise awareness on food insecurity issues in Singapore. We’ll be visiting primary and secondary classrooms, educating them on food insecurity and how to help. We’re also holding a two-week food drive. This experience has provided insight on important issues in our community and the ways we can make a difference. We’re glad to give back in our humble ways.” – Federica Alfonso and Lilowen Trottet, Year 11 students
72 Bukit Tinggi Road
St Joseph’s Institution International
St. Joseph’s Institution International aims to create opportunities for students to bring learning outside of the classroom. It promotes an appreciation of the world, develops skills and understanding through experience and creates avenues for personal development. Students take part in service learning projects both in and outside of Singapore. Community partnerships range from animal welfare shelters and homes for the elderly to inclusive schools for disadvantaged children and organisations committed to conservation and sustainable living.
“For the past year, we’ve been writing a children’s book to raise awareness for pangolin conservation. We feel that this is an important cause that many people are not aware of. Although it was hard to conduct meetings and organise our project during the Circuit Breaker, we persevered and were able to get the job done. When we complete the project, we hope that people will learn not to turn a blind eye on these precious animals.” – Tharani, Abram and Ame, Grade 12
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