In the ninth grade, I was part of the photography team. I signed up to shoot for some activities, the most prominent being shooting for the Habitat for Humanity hat painting activity. Being part of the photography team allowed me to grow as it fostered my individual skills and also collaborative skills. I was taught to use a camera and to improve my photography, and I began to see growth through the photos I was taking. I began to develop more effective communication skills as well, as I would work with some of my peers in the photography team during workshops to gain a deeper understanding. The areas I still need to work on would be on my commitment skills as I didn’t go to all the workshops I could.
2. How did you undertake challenges that developed new skills?
In the tenth grade, I took part in Applause for a Cause, a musical production to raise money for the charity Worldwide Action, which allowed me to fuse my love for musical theatre to helping the community. I had never done a musical production at school prior to this one, and it was a challenge as this meant that I had another commitment I had to manage my time for. This pushed me to become better organised as I wanted to make time for rehearsals but also maintain my grades and relationships with family and friends.
3. How did you discuss, evaluate and plan student-initiated activities?
I joined the GIN (Global Issues Network) club The Reading Tree in the tenth grade, and became involved in volunteering activities such as the Kids4Kids sessions that happened very Friday. Further on in the year, I then became a collective member of The Reading Tree, and currently co-lead the Lower School Reading Buddy Program, now named Lilypad, in which volunteers read with Grade 1 students at CDNIS. To begin the program, I became a co-leader and was chosen by the previous collective and teachers of TRT. I then started working with the other co-leader to refine the lesson plans in order for the students to maximise improvement. I began a Skype group to communicate with my team and regularly emailed them to ensure that everyone was updated and prepared for the next meeting. I met with my co-leader and the Grade 1 teachers, Ms Sweeney and Ms Adams, to define what the goals were and how to make sure that they were eventually reached. This is continuous and I am still doing this. I know that this worked because I have seen progress in these children’s reading abilities as now many of them are able to read back to me and understand something based on inferences, demonstrating their refined critical thinking skills that have been fostered during this program.
4. How did you persevere in action?
In the ninth grade, my friend Eloise and I decided to take part of The Reading Tree’s K4K Just Write For Kids writing competition. The winners of the competition would have their books published and used in teaching materials for kids in Myanmar and for kids in the Kids4Kids program. We wrote and illustrated a picture book titled ‘Millie and the Magic Mirror’ and won the competition. During the creation process, there were many high points and low points, and we would keep working on the book by motivating each other and by gathering inspiration sources. We did this by reading some children’s books and eventually, asked for help. We asked the help of a published author, Dr Jennifer Ford, to help us with proofreading and she offered us improvements with the phrasing and syntax of the book. From there, we refined our work and submitted the book.
5. How did you work collaboratively with others?
In the seventh and eighth grade, I was part of the Junior Student Ambassadors. I worked with the club and teachers to welcome new students at the start of each academic year. I would collaborate with the club to schedule the plans and ice-breakers that we were going to do in order to familiarise ourselves with the new students so that they would feel more welcome. I worked with my group mates in individual committees every week in preparation for the next school year so we would have time to refine our plans and thus, make sure that the new students feel welcomed at their new school.
6. How did you develop international-mindedness through global engagement, multilingualism and intercultural understanding?
In the tenth grade, I went on a CAS trip to Fiji, which involved building and working with children. I had to learn basic terms in Fijian to communicate with the people there, such as ‘Bula’, which means hello! When I was building and working in construction with the students on my trip, I had to maintain communication between them and the locals that were also helping. I solved communication and cultural challenges mostly by observing and reacting with actions if they were needed. I wanted to decrease the amount of confusion felt between the both parties, so I tried to be as inclusive as possible. This changed the way I think about the world because I realised that I had to be more open-minded in order to help and communicate with different people in the world.
7. How did you consider the ethical implications of your actions?
In the ninth grade, I was a Digital Ambassador, and I helped my peers with technology if needed. I co-represented the class and attended meetings to gain more knowledge about the technology used at school. My service influenced the target group (students around me) for the better because CDNIS uses a large variety of technology to aid students with their learning. The teachers in the IT department helped the students help others. Being a Digital Ambassador allowed me to grow my personal skills, such as communication and collaboration skills. I know that I have helped my community because I have learnt to employ my problem solving skills to help others, and helped them overcome a challenge.