Service and Action

The Letter Project: Out of School

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How did you become more aware of your own strengths and areas for growth?

Through this service I have been able to grow as an individual through numerous different aspects. I became much more confident when running large scale events, and I developed much stronger communication and collaboration skills as it demanded a great deal of communication and team work alongside the school, school community, as well as correspondents and the head of schools in Philippines. I was able to excel in planning and overcame difficulties that I encountered such as shipping time conflicting, or language barriers when setting up events with the rural school in the Philippines. I learned to better manage my time and break large projects into smaller pieces that could be manageable and completed effectively and efficiently. An area of growth that I found through completing this task would most certainly be organisation. Not only did running a charity single handedly mean that I would have to manage the finances and communications. I also had to ensure that I was able to fundraising while meeting advocacy protocol, and that the bulk orders and shipments were correctly organised as each required a specific set of stationary to be included and this must remain consistent for all 500 sets. Through this I encountered several difficulties such as displacing the products and ergo organisation is a key factor I need to work on and grow.

How did you undertake challenges that developed new skills?

One important skill that this service challenge has pushed me to develop is my understanding of the communities around me and how to appeal to their needs. This is because fundraising was fairly difficult and a much longer process under the CDNIS advocacy protocol. Thus, I had to ensure that I would be able to fundraise the appropriate amount of money without forcing anyone into it and still abiding all protocol. I learnt that digital media would be the more effective for the target audience and developed technology skills in order to achieve a greater outreach. It pushed me to further my skills in technology such as creating videos as well as successfully using social media as a platform for outreach. I also developed collaboration skills when working with the school in the Philippines and the supplier for the stationary as we all spoke different languages and lived in different countries, in addition to never having met before. Thus, by developing these skills in the face of challenges, this project has allowed me to further my skills as a whole.

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How did you persevere in action?

As this was and is an incredibly large project that spans for over a year it meant that there were many challenges that I had had to face. In addition to the fact that I have never done anything like this – setting up and running a charity. There are 3 key ways that are examples in how I preserve in action. Firstly, when advocating and fundraising I was not able to achieve the target amount of funds I had set out to reach, however, instead of gaining up and purchasing less stationary kits, I instead decided to create an advocacy video in the hopes of increasing the outreach and thus was able to get more people aware and interested in contributing to the cause. Another way that I preserved was through communication. I experienced many communication difficulties with the school due to the fact that we did not speak the same languages and the rural area had poor reception and link to the community, thus making communication across entire countries incredibly difficult. I overcame this challenge by writing emails instead of having phone calls, and having people that do speak Filipino to help in translating the emails. Finally, the packaging process of the stationary was a tiresome and long process. I had to pack watch set of stationary into a zipper pouch with a specific amount of stationary in each. It took over 30 hours to package and required persistence to complete.

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How did you work collaboratively with others?

I worked collaboratively with others throughout the process of this project as it was based largely offed communication with my immediate community, as well as with the school in the Philippines. Working with the rural Sibuyao school required excellent collaboration skills as there were many challenges that had to be overcome that are often not involved to such extent. I had to communicate with the school in order to coordinate the distribution evens and dates, as well as all other forms of information communication in order to successfully collaborate with them to host the event with out actually being at the school. And even before the distribution, I was required to collaborate with the school throughout the planning process leading up to the purchasing of the stationary itself through tasks such as deciding and learning what the students needed the most and what was lacking in the community to ensure that what ever it is I provided in the stationary kits would be at the utmost benefit to the student at the school and thus, through collaborating I gained a stronger understanding of what I could so to help, as well as ensure a smooth distribution event.

How did you develop international-mindedness through global engagement, multilingualism and intercultural understanding?

Due to the global and international nature of this project I easily developed much stronger international-mindesness. The project itself was a form of global engagement I had been required to work hand in hand with Sibuyao Elementary School, which is a school that is in the Philippines and the project of starting a charity itself was a hope to increase global engagement and support those who are not able to afford to receive a full course of primary education themselves. Ergo, I fostered a strong sense of global engagement and intercultural understanding throughout the process of learning abut the rural communities in the Philippines and the challenges that they fact in the modern day. I also learnt plenty of information on the culture through the images that I received from the school or from images I came across while researching. As well as through conversations with the Principal of the school while I had been communicating with them to coordinate events. By working to benefit the larger community and strive to achieve the millennium development goal of universal primary education I have thus been able to develop international-mindedness. As well as using a wide range of language skills such as when using mandarin to order the bulk shipment of stationary from suppliers, or using Fillipino to make major decisions with the school.

How did you consider the ethical implications of your actions?

The reason I had wanted to do this project was because I had wanted to achieve positive ethical implications on a community that is less developed and in need to financial aid to achieve a better future with brighter opportunities. Especially with job choices, wanting to allow the children in the Sibuyao community be able to achieve a full course of primary education so that they would be able to have a wider range of job choices in the future that are less reliant on the unstable agricultural base industry. I considered the implications that providing stationary will have and understood that it would be able to help in counteracting the issue of high drop out rates in these communities. Through providing stationary, I hoped that this would encourage more children to go to school, and for those who already attend, provide a way to alleviate school expenses so that more children will remain in school rather than dropping out. Thus, providing a higher chance to move into higher education and from there better job opportunities that will eventually mean a higher income that can be directed to meeting other MDG goals.

Habitat for Humanity Executive: Inside of School

How did you become more aware of your own strengths and areas for growth?

My experience as a habitat for humanity executive for one year has taught me numerous skills that will continue to benefit me beyond the club, as well as showing me the areas of strength that I currently have and those that I need to develop in the future. I became aware through planning the numerous club events as the advocacy officer, that I had strong organisational skills, especially on digital tools such as communication through google drive and email. I reazlied that I had strong foundational understanding of the topics that I was speaking on regarding global access to safe and “decent” housing. I also learnt that one of my strengths that I could continue to apply in the future would be the ability to break down large tasks into smaller chunks of manageable sized works. I was able to break down the large tasks that were assigned to me such as running an entire scavenger hunt event on my own encompassing the entire upper school community. I was able to have a clear vision as to what I needed to do and planned everything out on an agenda and calendar that enabled me to go about the task in a local manner and meet the tight deadlines. A area of growth that I found out about myself through this community and service role was that I am often hesitant to initiate communications with those who I am unfamiliar with. It was fairly difficult for example to communicate with the CDNIS facility in preparing for events such as the family fun fair, or ordering materials/resources that the Habitat for Humanity club needed.

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How did you undertake challenges that developed new skills?

When encountering a larger challenge that was unfamiliar or required large amounts of planning and had a long process I often reminded myself to stop and think before acting. After the first few attempts in running advocacy events were much more difficult than what it could have been I started to always remember to stop and think before starting my project. Through this throughout planning I was able to see what  needed to work on in order to achieve the final product and if there were any steps along the way that I was less confident with it gave me the opportunity to look into it such as by researching or asking for help from other club members before moving into actually conducting the task by myself. One really good example of when I demonstrated development of new skills through undertaking challenges would be during the annual Paint your Glove event. I was pushed to undertake challenges during this events including organising the advocacy components leading up to the event within a short period of time, while also managing the resources on the side. This allowed me to develop new skills such as communication of ideas and making proposals. I had to pitch many ideas during this period and this taught me a lot about how to effectively and successfully pitch ideas. I also developed my creativity and collaboration skills as it required all sectors of the club to work together, as well as coordinating with the upper school, the school administration, and organising the lower school students.

How did you persevere in action?

Over this year long community and service work it was crucial that I was able to preserve in action and ensure full commitment to the task in order to ensure I was able to contribute to the club in a way that I had committed to since the end of last year. I did this by balancing my work throughout longer periods of time rather than trying to cram it all and complete it within short time frames before the deadlines. I ensured that I had strong communication with those working alongside of me throughout the different projects and by doing so we were able to provide support for one another, and important contributor as to how I was able to preserve through action with the help of fellow club executives. Another way in which I preserved in action, especially when I encountered difficulties along the way was by stopping a thinking of altnertive solutions whenever I encountered a challenge. I became acquainted with making calendars and agendas not only for myself but for the other execs around me so that we were all working on the same page and there are a sense of security through leadership that provided the confidence necessary to continue striving forward despite the difficulties we encountered.

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How did you work collaboratively with others?

A large part of what determines success in this role as an executive relies on effectiveness of collaboration. Especially as the advocacy officer for the club, it is vital that not only do I demonstrate strong collaboration skills with other members of my club executive team, but it also means that I had to ensure that I worked collaboratively with different global issue networks within the school community to host events and engage a larger community in order to not only advocate the importance of adequate and safe housing, but to also increases possible chances of fundraising. One example of how I had collaborated with with others to achieve a better result would be during the family fun fair planning and the habitat easter assembly planning. I learned to work with CISPA and the school facility to plan the spaces that would be designated to the club as well as get all the resources that would be required such as power outlets and ice. I also had to work collaborativly with suppliers to order the required resources, a process that taught me how to work with those outside my own immediate community in different languages and modes of communication such as phone calls a emails. The forum event taught me collaboration as we are to work alongside the upper school student council when coordinating the events and decided on many major decisions together such as the house point designation, learning to collaborate and be open minded.

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I developed international-mindedness through working in a position within a club of the global issues network which strives to create positive change in the world. Throughout my time in the club I worked mainly with other members to look into issues of housing in the world, or the lack of. I increased my knowledge an achieved global engagement by planning many of the advocacy campaigns leading up to the build trips. I looked into many of the global issues surrounding the lack of adequate housing and the reasons that cause some families to not be able to afford safe shelters, as well as possible solutions to combat the implications of such situations. Habitat for humanity at school also opened the door for me to the attend the Hong Kong Habitat for Humanity Youth Leadership Council of Hong Kong, and I was able to be exposed to many of these global issues and became much more engaged with not only the local community but also with the global community through overall factors that need to be overcome to enable a world where everyone has a decent place to live. Multilingualism and intercultural understanding was a major factor and is an area I developed in greatly over the course of this year. I learnt to communicate with families in different countries that speak different languages and when helping my fellow peers I exercised multilingualism when contacting suppliers or searching for them on online Chinese based databases.

How did you consider the ethical implications of your actions?

While working on this area of community and service I consistently considered the ethical implications of my actions. I understood the ways in which what I was doing would have a greater benefit beyond the school community and had a clear understanding that through succesful advocacy I would be able to achieve a stronger fundraising campaign and as a result have more funding that can be directed to the build trips in countries such as Cambodia and Philippines, striving to achieve Habitats goal and vision.