Think Bintan and what comes to mind – beachside bungalows and luxurious pool villas? We spoke with one school that travels to the nearby Indonesian island for a different reason altogether. Nina Jaworsky and Rebecca Gillman, educators at St. Joseph’s Institution International, explain the school’s history of service volunteerism in Bintan.
Tell us about St Joseph’s Institution International’s work in Bintan.
Nina: From Grade Seven, students participate in a weekly service project in Singapore. Seven years ago, our seventh-grade students started working in Bintan. They travel there twice during the school year. The first trip, in January, enables students to make contact and assess needs while thinking about how fundraising money can be used. Then they return for three days in November where they participate in a range of projects, such as planting gardens, painting classrooms and laying pavement.
How do you find places to volunteer in Bintan?
Rebecca: We work with a provider called Loola. It’s an eco-resort owned by Dr Marc van Loo and Ms Isabelle Lacoste (thus the “Loo” and “La”) who are longtime educators in Singapore. They promote responsible tourism through camps and community programs.
Where are the kids currently volunteering?
Rebecca: We are working with six primary schools and one children’s home, Bina Insani. Our students work alongside their students and can interact with them during breaks and lunchtimes.
How do you teach the kids about sustainable change?
Rebecca: We use the definition from the Brundtland Report published in 1987, which says, “Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” We want projects that promote positive lasting change without compromising on environmental, social or economic factors. We also want to build a sense of continuity and progression, not only for the partner schools but also for our students’ understanding of and commitment to those schools. Character building is a big part of SJII’s service culture.
How does this work do that?
Nina: By partaking in active service in Bintan, students are able to see the impact that their work can have on school communities beyond fundraising. It creates a sense of unity amongst students and their partner schools, and allows students to see how the money they fundraise really makes a difference.
To support their work in Bintan, students organise a fundraising week, hosting a raffle, bake sale and sporting events.
- “When we visited at the beginning of the year, our partner school had rotting timber, and the walls were deteriorating. The school didn’t have adequate stationary needs, school books or play equipment. When we return, we will use the money we have raised to purchase items and help fix areas of the school.” – EMILIA
- “It was both fun and challenging to work together to raise funds for our partner school in Bintan. The money will buy new furniture and help the children in the Bina Insani orphanage to get clean water.” – TANISHA
- “It was amazing to see how much support we got from generous parents and students of all grades. I learned how to work as part of a team and oversee a project that I know will greatly benefit our partner schools in Bintan.” – BENJAMIN
SJI International School
sji-international.com.sg | 490 Thomson Road
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