- How did you become more aware of your own strengths and areas for growth?
I became more aware of my strengths and areas for growth by partaking in team based activities and group efforts during my CAS trips.
Through team based activities I learnt that my skills from basketball heavily transferred to my ability to collaborate in a team environment, regardless of the task. I work effectively in a group as I prioritise supporting my teammates, and being open minded and listening to their ideas. I also learnt that I have a role to play in order to contribute to the success of the team. From that I developed my teamwork skills as well as my ability to work under pressure.
An example of this is during my New Zealand CAS trip, in which we needed to make teams and white water raft down a river. In the raft we needed to collaborate and communicate well as to keep in sync to move forwards, and avoid any obstacles that were in the water. Because of this I learnt that I can work well in a team and support my mates when they need it. This helped me become more aware of my strength of team collaboration, showing me that I work better in a team based environment, as well as showing me that I can be more successful when utilising my skills in a team. Along with that, during our New Zealand hike, myself along with a few others decided to lead the hike as a form of challenging ourselves, which allowed us to collectively help out those who needed support, as well as gain support from teammates. This allowed me to become more aware of my strength of being able to thrive in a team based environment.
I became more aware of my areas for growth from service as action too. Before most of the service as action experiences I lacked in confidence and because of this did not enjoy communicating my ideas to my team, mainly because I thought they were bad. However through the service as action experiences I was able to understand that regardless what the idea is, it can be built on and improved with the help of my peers. This was evidenced in a group collaboration exercise in Hainan, in which we needed to solve a puzzle to advance in a game. I was slightly worried that my idea was not good so I decided to not share it. However when prompted by my peers I eventually decided to share my solution to the issue. My peers and I then revised the plan slightly and it ended up working out well. This showed me that my communication still needed to be improved, but also showed me how I should do so, giving me confidence to speak up and contribute to group discussions whenever I could and helping me develop my area for growth in communication.
Events like these have impacted my ability to identify my own strengths and weaknesses, and then adapt them into familiar and unfamiliar situations. This has helped me become more aware of my ability to work better in teams, as well as showed me that I can improve on my communication skills in group environments.
- How did you undertake challenges that developed new skills?
I took challenges to develop my confidence skills by exiting my comfort zone to try new things, and volunteering for roles and tasks that I felt unfamiliar with. In doing this I was able to further my own skills in new areas, as well as gain the confidence to exit my comfort zone to learn new things in the future. An example of this was during the hainan trip I had learnt to surf, despite my dislike for surfing. Because of this I not only learnt how to surf but also ended up enjoying it quite a lot, enough to try surfing again during the Australia trip. This shows that through exiting my comfort zone I gained a sense of confidence in a new environment, and eventually used the skill and confidence I gained in a future service as action trip. Another example of this was going out of my comfort zone to go to Chiang Mai and work on a buildsite for a library. At the time I was not too keen on physical exercise or work and I disliked working in harsh environments and hot weather. However keeping in mind that I was helping the local community I decided to take the challenge and work at the build site, eventually being able to develop a better understanding of the process of construction, as well as developing my teamwork and personal skills as teamwork was key to getting things done faster and with better quality.
I took challenges to develop my cooperative and communication skills by actively communicating any ideas that I had, regardless of how comfortable I felt in the group, as well as making sure my teammates ideas were heard so that nobody else felt excluded. In doing so I learnt how to be more engaging in a group, as well as develop a strong bond with teammates to help complete tasks. This also helped me learn how to be both a leader and a supporter at the same time when working in a group, developing a new skill that I could apply to various different situations. An example of this is during the spear hunting/hike and trek activity in Australia, in which I tried to help those who needed help with the throwing technique. An example of this was during the New Zealand hike. I originally disliked the idea of doing a 3-4 day hike as camping in the outdoors was not something I never really did, and along with that I also had never done a hike where I needed to carry days worth of clothing and food around. However I wanted to engage myself in a new environment and learn about New Zealand’s history, and because of that I decided to face the challenges that the activity had to offer, which helped me learn about the local tribes and history, as well as learning how to live in the outdoors efficiently and without leaving a trace (no rubbish and take care of the cabin that we stayed in)
Because of my partaking in these challenges, I was able to develop my communication, confidence and cooperative skills, allowing me to be able to face new challenges with a improved skill set that can help me accomplish new and difficult tasks.
- How did you discuss, evaluate and plan student-initiated activities?
I discussed student-initiated activities is by discussing new ideas and ways to initiate action, as well as reflecting on the ideas and their success to gain a better understanding of how to be successful in future student initiated activities.
When discussing the student initiated activities, the groups that we were in would start off by individually sharing their own ideas for the task, in doing this everyone’s voice could be heard and the ideas given by one person could be developed by the rest, until eventually everyone had a collective idea that they all enjoyed or that would help achieve the task in hand. In order to evaluate the idea we would plan out set events and timelines through action plans, and collectively work on required tasks to eventually complete the final goal. Once completed we would reflect on the overall process.
An example of discussing, evaluating and planning student-initiated activities, In grade 9 I partook in a civics service as action project that required us to plan a project that we would be developing over the course of the year. The objective was to make an impact on our local community. As my project I created a presentation and set of infographics to promote the issue of stray animals in hong kong. In doing so I was able to communicate my message not only to my class but to those who saw my presentation and my infographics. This helped me gain experience for future projects in which I will need to be planning in the long term, as evidenced by the help it provided me in planning for my personal project. Another point of evidence could be through my Chiang Mai CAS trip, in which we collectively built and organised a student initiated activity of building a library. In order to do this we had to first discuss the concept and how to tackle the various jobs by collaboratively considering each others roles. Then we needed to plan out how we would work, by giving each other feedback and ideas on how to move materials or build parts more effectively, and eventually we evaluated and reflected on the whole project in our CAS notebooks. This process was successful due to the collaborative effort of the team, as well as the well thought out and executed plan that was made by my peers and I.
These exercises helped us understand the strengths and weaknesses of each project, allowing us to give and gain good feedback for future activities in terms of what went well and what could be improved on.
- How did you persevere in action?
In order to persevere in action I partook in CAS trips that would present a large challenge to myself in order to grow. This would make me face new challenges, help me learn to deal with unfamiliar situations, and put me into difficult situations that require me to persevere in order to be successful.
An example of this is the Chiang Mai trip required us to do a lot of manual labour to help build a library. At this point in time I was not too keen on physical work, so I decided to challenge myself and persevere in this opportunity to help develop myself as a person. In doing this I tackled a very challenging task that I found difficult and uncomfortable, but because I fought through the struggles and difficulties, myself and my group were able to succeed after many hours of work in creating the foundation for the library.
Along with that I also did a voluntary Beijing trip that had the objective of going to a rural area and teaching students Chinese, as well as providing supplies to their school. In doing this I put myself in a situation that I had never been in before, allowing me to learn and develop myself, as well as persevere in action by tackling a unique and difficult task in new ways, despite my own struggles with speaking chinese, and my lack of understanding in the field of teaching.
- How did you work collaboratively with others?
I worked collaboratively with others by being listening to my teammates and peers, being open minded about their ideas, and trying to ensure that everyone was involved in a group effort.
Many of the service as action projects are team based, mainly the CAS trips, as they put you with friends and people you don’t know, allowing you to create new bonds and develop connections. This was done by sharing ideas in group discussions and then evaluating and developing the ideas, as well as trying to prompt others to share their thoughts when they seemed uncomfortable. In doing this not only did we ensure that we were working as a group, but we also created great ideas and helped develop each other’s interpersonal/communication skills, and that we accomplished our goal.
An example of this was the raft building exercise in hainan, in which we were in teams and needed to build a raft with given materials that could get us to a certain point in the water. When we tackled this task we needed to work as a team and discuss the different possibilities, eventually developing a plan for the design that we all agreed on. Then we needed to utilise our communication skills to individually complete our jobs so that the whole raft could function, when building the raft we also needed to work collaboratively by helping each other when needed and supporting our teammates, eventually finishing the raft and getting it into the water.
- How did you develop international-mindedness through global engagement,
multilingualism and intercultural understanding?
In order to develop international-mindedness through global engagement, multilingualism and intercultural understanding, I engaged with various communities and individuals during my CAS trips, with the goal of making an impact on the people that I meet.
Not only did the service as action projects send us around the world, it also helped us delve into the location’s local communities. Through these projects we learnt the connection between local and global engagement, giving us a thorough understanding of the impact that we can create on the communities around us. This also prompted the use of multilingualism and intercultural understanding as knowing our audience and using skills like language and knowledge allowed us to complete our projects with better quality.
For example, during the New Zealand CAS trip we went to a culture center and learnt about the local culture and their history, this included activities like ancient spiritual rituals like the smoking ritual, as well as a tour of facilities that showed us the older culture and how it was preserved. In doing this we were gaining knowledge of their culture, and helping to preserve their ideologies and culture. Through the hands on engagement with the culture, we gained new perspectives about the areas around us and their historical value.
Another example was during the Thailand Chiang Mai CAS trip, where we learnt how to cook local food and speak the local language. This was done through an activity where an instructor taught us the ways to communicate with people in the market to purchase the required ingredients to cook a soup. This was a great experience as it engaged us in multilingualism through real life application, as well as helped us engage and use our new skills to communicate with the local people. This allowed us to develop our international mindedness as the task allowed us to fully comprehend the impact of our global engagement, and why the activity was so important.
These experiences helped us engage globally with a culture we are unfamiliar with, which helped us develop a stronger understanding of the world around us, hence developing our international mindedness and global engagement.
- How did you consider the ethical implications of your actions?
During my time in the service as action programmes, I have considered in great detail the ethical implications of my actions. I did this through writing about my impact on the places I go to in various reflections, as well as reaching out to those I have affected and seeing how they have been impacted by my actions.
An example of this is during the Australia CAS trip, we learnt a lot about the great barrier reef, even visiting part of it to help learn about the way the wildlife there works, as well as learn about the impact that pollution has on the reef. Once we finished our trip, I had considered how my own daily actions could be affecting a reef that was thousands of miles away, as the instructors taught us about how the waterflow means that pollution from all around the globe could be affecting the reef. This made me reconsider some of my daily life, motivating me to recycle whenever I can at home and in school, as well as motivating me to get my own mug for the cafeteria so I wouldn’t be wasting material. I also subscribed to Reef Teach, which helped me see what they are up to every month and helping remind myself of the impact that I have both locally and globally. In doing this I maintain my own knowledge and actively consider my ethical impact on the world even after the service as action experiences. This allows me to properly consider the ethical implications of my actions as I consider the impact of my actions both during and after the activity.
All of my service as action experiences have taught me that any individual can have a substantial impact on the communities they visit, and that this is a key concept for becoming a global citizen, as well as understanding and preserving our cultures and histories.