Throughout my journey in the Middle Years Program, I have participated in several service activities that have allowed me to grow as a learner, helping me to become more aware of my own strengths and areas for growth. In Grade 7 and 8, I traveled to Chiang Mai and Sabah for CAS week, respectively, and committed to service by doing construction for local schools. The most memorable part of this was seeing how happy they were with so little. Since the people in those more remote areas do not have the resources necessary to live the comfortable life I am fortunate enough to have, seeing their contentment with what little they have greatly allowed me to realize how ungrateful I am for my extensive access to resources and modern lifestyle. Thus, appreciating the daily luxuries I take for granted is a clear area of improvement for me.
I undertook challenges that developed my communication skills through actively participating in the Kids4Kids buddy reading program, a student-led initiative where volunteers visit local community centers and read to children to help them in learning English as a second language. This program not only fosters organizational skills (as students are tasked with collaborating to plan each session) but also cultivates interpersonal skills and a drive for making positive contributions to society. I needed to persevere in action as they spoke Cantonese as a first language– a language I understand but cannot speak– and therefore, I needed to communicate nonverbally and using my knowledge of Mandarin and English.
Perhaps the greatest culmination of the exploration of my personal passions and globally engaging in service is taking part in Applause For A Cause– a budgetless event where students performed musical theatre songs and donated profits to Worldwide Action, a charity aiming to rebuild schools destroyed from earthquakes in Nepal. This was not only successful as we fundraised enough to build two classrooms; it also developed my international-mindedness as I was made more aware of the issues people outside of my local communities face.
I considered the ethical implications of my actions by personally judging if they would actually benefit the community. Too often is the notion of voluntourism considered service. I do feel that the service I have participated in has made a positive impact on local and global communities. As discussed previously, this is not only evidenced by a tangible product such as the progress on classrooms we made for students in Chiang Mai, Sabah and Nepal, but is also highlighted through the intangible developing language skills of the local children in Kids4Kids. Ensuring that our actions are ethical and genuinely advantageous to our communities is incredibly important, as although memory may fade, compassion and the desire to improve society truly follows us throughout our lives.
during my trip, I walked up Seongsan Ilchulbong Peak, a volcanic crater and UNESCO world heritage site. not sure how to describe it since it wasn’t just walking, it was climbing stairs on uneven ground for 20 minutes (if you don’t stop to rest, which I didn’t do). was seriously tiring (as it was quite hot too) but only in the short-term, this photo is the view from the top. the next image is a screenshot of the Health app recording how many steps i’d taken that day. #movement