How did you become more aware of your own strengths and areas for growth?
One of the main things that I did in terms of service was Kids4Kids and the Lower School Reading Programme, as part of The Reading Tree, where I read and taught English to both local children and CDNIS Lower School students. From this, I became more aware of my strengths with children, specifically the way I act with and teach them. My constant interactions with the children allowed me to develop my behaviour with them, as well as a strong connection that allowed us to communicate effectively with each other. Furthermore, I have found that I really enjoy doing service with them, making the experience more enjoyable for me. As for my areas for growth, I think that I need to be able to be in more control with the children and adapt my behaviour depending on the character and personality of the individuals.
How did you undertake challenges that developed new skills?
As one of the school’s Digital Ambassadors from 2013 to 2016, I was often faced with challenges when other students required my help and assistance with their computers. This was mostly a challenge for me, as I had joined the club out of interest and a willingness to help others, even with my lack of digital knowledge. However, because of these challenges that I faced, I listened intently and contributed during meetings, and additionally inquired into the various issues that had to be solved. This allowed me to develop a myriad of new skills regarding technological and digital matters.
Another challenge that I undertook that allowed me to develop new skills was when I was a volunteer for UNICEF’s Family Fun Fair booth. We initially intended to make and sell cotton candy, but right before the booth opened, we discovered that the cotton candy machine was not working. Because of this, the volunteering members had to think on our feet and act quickly to find an alternate solution and allow things to run smoothly. In the end, it was decided that the product would be switched to hot chocolate instead, which could be made and sold at a similar pace, serving as an appropriate alternative.
How did you discuss, evaluate and plan student-initiated activities?
One of the activities that I helped to plan was the UNICEF Clothes Drive. I discussed and helped organised logistics regarding the collection boxes – the type of boxes, location of the boxes, duration of collection etc. With everyone’s contributions and effort, we were ultimately able to organise a successful clothes drive. We know that it worked and could be deemed successful due to the large amount of clothes and funds that we received and were ultimately able to donate to Christian Action.
Another service activity that was planned with students was during my CAS Trip to Fiji, during which we were at a primary school and given time to interact and play with the students there. As the leader of my group, I had to take charge and come up with ideas for games that we could play as a group that would not be hindered by the language barrier that existed. The kids thoroughly enjoyed their time with us, which we knew through their ecstatic faces and the fact that they expressed their wishes to see us again the next day.
How did you persevere in action?
I persevered in action during Kids4Kids, as I got a lip “injury” during one of the sessions, in which one of the little kids jumped up and caused my bottom lip to smash into my upper row of teeth, creating a cut and swollen lip. Even though this happened, I continued in the session and tried my best to make it seem like nothing had happened, even with an ice pack pressed against my lip.
Two other times in which I kept working on my service action became difficult for the same reason – the weather was extremely hot. The first instance was when I was painting wooden poles for a walkway in Fiji. The students on our CAS Trip were at the Mulomulo Primary School in Nadi, Fiji, helping the students and staff by building a covered walkway that would protect them from sun and rain. My job was to smoothen and paint the wooden poles that made up the basic structure of the walkway. I spent a few hours working on this and had to continuously work regardless of the blazing heat. Although this was the case, ice water was provided for all the students and our hard work paid off immensely.
Similarly, the other case was when I was assisting farmers in Cheung Chau. I was helping to design a garden area and place plants in the soil. The heat was rather strong – I quickly became dehydrated and began to feel quite dizzy. However, after resting for a while and drinking some water, I was back on my feet and back on the job to help my peers.
How did you work collaboratively with others?
I had to work collaboratively with others during Kids4Kids, as we were put in pairs for each session and were assigned a few children per pair. This meant that I had to work with my partner to try to control the children and be able to have fun at the same time. Another time that I worked collaboratively with others was during my club meetings for UNICEF and the Reading Tree this year, where we had to come up with various ideas and think of solutions to solve certain problems or to brainstorm for an event.
Another specific example of when I worked with others was when I volunteered for the UNICEF Poverty Simulation. The simulation was split into various booths in the LLAC lobby to provide CDNIS fourth graders with a feeling of how poverty and being discriminated might feel. My particular booth was the “Construction” booth, consisting of an obstacle course that was meant to simulate harsh, physical labour work. While working at this booth, I was required to work with not only my fellow club members to ensure that the simulation ran smoothly, but also with the fourth graders, in order to make sure that the messages were being conveyed well while they still had fun.
How did you develop international-mindedness through global engagement, multilingualism and intercultural understanding?
I was able to develop international-mindedness in various service opportunities. In Kids4Kids, I was opened up to those who were not as strong in English as I was, and to communicate with them in a way that we could both understand. In UNICEF, I got a better idea of the United Nations, as well as child rights, which is an important global issue in the world right now. In the Reading Tree, I get to help with Kids4Kids and Myanmar, enhancing the lives of children in different parts of the world.
This was further developed when I went to Fiji for CAS Week, specifically while planting coral. By listening to the guides there, I learned about the many issues that exist right now around the world with regards to coral reefs, such as coral bleaching. Not only did I hear about this, but I was also able to experience and see it in person while snorkelling in the coral reefs. This hit me hard and caused me to fully understand the need to take action. As a result, the teachers and students who were on this trip all took part in planting coral to work towards resolving this global issue. At the same time, during our time spent in Fiji we interacted very frequently with the local people and tried our best to learn a few words and phrases from their language. We also participated in many local traditional activities, which further exposed us to the intricate fabrication of Fijian culture and way of life.
How did you consider the ethical implications of your actions?
I believe that all the service that I have done has influenced my target group for the better, as I was ultimately able to achieve something for various communities. I do not believe that any of the service that I have done is considered unethical.
As a Junior Student Ambassador from 2012-2015, I was able to work with the school community and create a better welcoming environment and for new students, by organising orientations before school officially started and holding events throughout the year to ensure their transition is proceeding smoothly. By doing this, we provided new students with a place of support and people that they knew they could trust during their time at CDNIS.
When I was in Taiwan for the Mandarin Immersion Trip, I also did community service by visiting and performing to elders at an elderly home in Kaohsiung. I performed the diabolo and a skit, wrote messages for the elders and had conversations with them together with fellow students who were on the trip. Although the things that we did were rather small and were not necessarily life-changing, I still believe that we were able to entertain them and make them happy for a while, which is just as important.