Experiencing life as a refugee with Crossroads – IB Retreat

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During the two day IB Retreat for grade 11, students took time away from learning about the IB program, CAS and Extended Essays to have a truly eye-opening experience with the Crossroads team. Students spent 45 minutes in the life of a refugee in a crises zone. It was a personally challenging, deeply moving and eye-opening experience for the students who are pictured in a group reflection with Crossroads Director David Begbie. Many students have commented that this experience has encouraged them to take action in their personal lives and through their future CAS experiences.

Charlie’s football project in Philippines continues into 2019!

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Charlie Stewart, Class of 2018, shares the way he’s continued to serve a community he cares about, one that started from his time as a Gr. 9 student creating his Personal Project at CDNIS.    Read how he practices the CDNIS Service Learning Pledge #10, “I commit to continually apply my passions, skills and knowledge to my communities no matter where I am in the world”, from his story below, and watch Charlie’s beautifully-shot video that captures the work he’s done with the community in Dumaguete, Philippines in February-March 2019:

“In 2015, the grade 10 personal project started for our year, and we were told to create a project that would have an impact on a community through something we are passionate about. My parents had connections with ICM (International Care Ministries) and they were a major help in connecting us with the children. After finishing the project, we all felt like we had to return because of how much we and the children enjoyed playing together but we never had the time until I started my gap year. I feel that the planning and preparation that goes behind an event like this closely resembles a presentation summative assignment that we do in class. Planning, research and preparation have to occur in both instances. One school project in-particular was very similar to what we did in Dumaguete. In geography class we created an interactive presentation about people living in poverty, I feel that this kind of project helped me understand more about the many issues around the world and think of different creative ways of helping solve these issues or benefiting the people in need.”

Phillip, refugees & the New York Times essay competition: many ways to take action!

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A multi-pronged action project spurred by interaction with refugees during the summer of 2016, led Phillip to take more hands-on and creative approaches.  Read about his experiences:

 “The refugee crisis is something we are not closely engaged with since we are living in Asia. However, on the opposite side of the world, there are people migrating every day risking their lives. Over the past few years, I have been engaging in refugee related volunteer work. 

I came to do my Personal Project about refugee crisis when I first went to Athens, Greece for volunteer work with my church members. After first-hand experience with refugees from Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria and having opportunity to talk with them made me research more into this controversial issue. When I was there in Greece in the year of 2016 during summer vacation, I was fortunate enough to help refugees with their Organic soap business. This Organic soap business is to make sure refugees can learn how to make soaps in their own, so that in near future, they can earn money through using what they have learned in the past. I was given an opportunity to bring around 300 soaps back to Hong Kong and I was able to sell those for charity during 2017 Family Fun Fair. 

After being engaged with refugees, I found that there is little action taken to alleviate this issue locally and how under concerned this topic is. At the start of Grade 11, Laurence (from Grade 11) and I decided to contact one of the refugee organisation located in Wan Chai hoping to interact with kids aged from 10-15 years old for our Student-led initiative. I believe this was an opportunity to be engaged in this issue locally. We have been doing this for about 6 months now and we are hoping that more people will join us! This is an issue close to my heart, where I began to research in my own to find ways where I can possibly be engaged directly or indirectly. On October 2017, I was able to enter ‘New York Times Essay competition’ about the on-going refugee crisis. At first, my focus was on winning the prize, but as I thought about what I have been doing for past months, I realised that this was on opportunity to express my thoughts and opinions to global audiences. I was able to incorporate my personal experience in my essay which made my essay seem rich and powerful. All of these experiences showed me the willingness for change whether its locally or globally, and I can only hope to get more involved.”

Small Plastic, Big Problem – Ellie @ the Ocean Summit 2018

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Ellie Cottrell, a Grade 12 student, taking Geography HL was one of the keynote speakers at the Volvo World Ocean Race’s “Ocean Summit” on 22nd January 2018, addressing a large gathering of committed academics and activists in the marine world.  You can catch a summary of the overall event on this video (Ellie is there right at the start!).  Here are her thoughts about the experience:

“Micro-plastics, or plastic pollution generally, in Hong Kong is something that is often talked about in the classroom or in discussions with teachers, but I found that there is little action taken to solve the issue. Particularly in the context of micro plastics, I found that as the issue is harder to be seen physically, it is often disregarded in favour other issues. 

After doing the Extended Essay (EE), I came to learn how under-researched this topic is, while also learning about the toxic and deadly consequences of micro plastic pollution. After finishing the EE earlier this school year, I found myself feeling frustrated with the difficulty of making a change about this issue, both from the idea of a cleanup measure and a preventative solution. Working with human rights issues and refugee rights, I found it was easier to get directly involved and campaign for institutional change. But making change for this issue has been difficult, as I felt like advocacy can only go so far when corporations continue to sell single-use plastics. It’s an issue close to my heart, where I have began to take my own personal measures such as saying “no” to single-use plastics and advocating for the issue among friends and family. Yet I still didn’t really know where I could go to advocate for this issue on a bigger platform or to make a direct difference. 

Last week, I spoke at the Ocean Summit for the Volvo Ocean Race as the Youth Speaker.  Ms. Safaya gave me this amazing opportunity, and it opened my eyes to the innovative solutions people are taking to the issue of plastic pollution, while also giving a platform to raise my voice. I had the opportunity to see some amazing speakers who had started initiatives such as the Cup Club, providing a sustainable solution to disposable coffee cups, the Plastic Diet, the changing people’s outlook on disposable plastic bags in Indonesia, and many others as well. I was humbled to be able to see so many innovative yet simple solutions to the plastic problem, which all had had an enormous positive impact on the issue. 

Being able to speak at the conference in front of so many academics and public figures who I admire was an amazing experience. I was able to share my own experiences through my work and research I had done in the extended essay on micro-plastics in Hong Kong, while also being able to use my voice to advocate for the necessity for individual change.  This experience was something new to me, and I wasn’t sure how the audience would react in terms of gaining support for change. I was pleased to see the positive reactions from my speech, with people sending me messages and emails after the conference to ask more questions about my work. This experience showed me the willingness for change in the community, and I can only hope to get more involved in this issue in the future.”

“Paint your… HOUSE!” Habitat for Humanity & Lower School!

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The goal of this campaign was to not only raise awareness for the issue of inadequate housing through fundraising and active advocacy campaigning but to also provide the opportunity for Lower and Upper school students to make a difference and to give their time and efforts to support a great cause. Hosting this event will help us achieve our short-term and long-term goals which are to raise enough funds to help subsidize our build trips both for this year but also for future build trips. Having a Paint-Your-House will help to educate, engage and reinforce the students’ understanding of the significance of a home and what it means to them.

We were able to raise a large amount of money to subsidize a build trip for our future build trip participants. The lower school students we talked to during the event expressed their interest in our club and the issue for inadequate housing as well. This had left our event extremely successful while meeting all our goals.

Continuing this event annually has increased the effectiveness of its advocacy component, as students have the opportunity to participate multiple times. Images provided of our build trips, and the fact that our members, and visitors from HFH Hong Kong, including the CEO, engaged with the students directly, ensuring that they are educated about the goals of Habitat and what it advocates for.

Here is a link to some photos and a video summary of the event.

Talks by Upper School students to Gr. 5s about refugees & taking action

By | CAS, GIN & Clubs, PYP, Social Justice | One Comment

On Wednesday, 18th October 2017, Upper School students from 3 refugee support clubs presented shared the current realities of refugees living in Hong Kong and how their clubs try to help in areas of literacy, food and sport.  Members from the “RESPECT”, “Cooking for a Cause” (see their presentation) and “Free to Run” student clubs got the Gr. 5 students interested in the issue with the help of photos, videos and stories, so much so that there wasn’t enough time for all the questions during the Q&A session.  By the end of the talks so many Gr. 5s were very keen to get involved themselves and learned about opportunities that open up to them once they are in the Upper School.

The Upper School students found it rewarding too:

“We thought that the grade five students participated eagerly and seemed enthusiastic to be part of the change. Judging by the number of hands going up every time we asked a question, they seemed genuinely interested in learning more about our club and the ways they could get involved in the future!”  – Jesse from ‘RESPECT’
“It was my pleasure to teach the 5th graders on not only refugees in general, but also what we do as a club. I was really happy when I saw the students interested in listening to what we do, since it is not really often to learn about refugees through the aspect of cooking. Therefore, I really hope they learned something from our club and our stories, which they may continue in the future if they are interested in joining CFC.” – Joyce from ‘Cooking for a Cause’
“It is a great experience for us to be able to share the importance to help refugees and we are happy to see the grade 5 are actually interested in it. I can see that they really have deep understanding on refugees and I hope to see them joining our club after they reach to grade 7, even though I would have already graduated.” – Kenne from ‘Cooking for a Cause’

Habitat For Humanity Popcorn & Italian Soda sale

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The goal of this campaign was to increase community awareness on the role of Habitat at our school as well as the need for adequate housing and fundraise money to subsidize build trips for future trip participants though a popcorn and Italian soda sale.  We were able to raise a large amount of money to subsidize a build trip for our future build trip participants. The students we talked to during and after the event expressed their interest in our build trips as well as telling us that they enjoyed reading the facts. Leaving our campaign goals met.  Students said that the HFH facts on the popcorn bags were accessible and interesting to read and share with the peers.  Many students contributed to our house signing component that we added and we were able to explain what Habitat was while they signed it.  We were able to get over 90 signatures in support of World Habitat day (2nd October 2017).  When talking to our friends, they said that they actually read the facts unlike if it was put on wordy posters.

What students thought about the event:
“There was a really good advocacy component as Habitat was able to place facts and information in an eye-catching place. It really taught me new information about the issue of inadequate housing in Hong Kong and what Habitat for Humanity is doing to help.”
“Writing facts on the paper bags at the Popcorn and Italian soda sale was a really great way for us to learn more about the club. But the added component of advocating for World Habitat Day by getting us to sign little paper houses that Habitat for Humanity Hong Kong was doing with the public, was even better as it made me feel more involved with the cause.”


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This year there were 13 trips in Hong Kong and abroad that had service learning components, and these video links highlight the variety of authentic community needs addressed in their specific communities.

Click on the links below to see a short student-made video about these trips with service learning experience built-in!

Hong Kong – Cooking for a Cause
Hong Kong – Crossroads

Fiji – Vinaka for making a difference!
Japan – Ecosystem Restoration

Kids4Kids Pitch Winners!

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Two Upper School Students, Naomi Yeung (grade 12) and Inez Ferrands (grade 9) recently participated in the Kids4Kids Powered by Youth Forum and pitched their idea for an app to help Hong Kong’s domestic helpers feel a sense of security. Watch this video they created to hear more about their planned initiative. Their pitch won $3000 to develop their idea!

Here is a statement from Naomi: “During the research process for our script for the pitch, Inez and I have learnt a lot about the issues of the safety of the domestic helpers. Mr. Fung, a news reporter who attended the Kids4Kids camp has inspired us to solve the issue of the safety of the domestic helpers as he made a report about the abuse of the domestic helpers in Hong Kong.”


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Athena and Alina are volunteers for the organisation – the Joshua Hellmann Foundation (, and we organized a walk that was held on the 14th of March (Saturday) at the Peak, Lugard Road. We had around 50 participants come to the walk wearing blue. The main intent of the walk was to raise awareness for rare diseases, which affect 350 million people worldwide. However, since there are so many conditions that affect small groups of the population, diagnosis, prevention, and treatment are often very difficult. In order to raise awareness, we had an activity during the walk that made participants pay attention to the statistics regarding rare diseases. Each person was given a quiz sheet that had statistics on them, with the numbers missing. Along the path of the walk, were marshals standing with signs that contained the missing numbers. Participants had to match the numbers on the marshals sign, to the right blank on their quiz, in order to get a free Sift cupcake.

After the 3.5 kilometre walk, participants went to the Mount Austin Playground (also in the Peak), where we provided them pizza, snacks, and drinks, which were provided to us for free by some adults who had heard about our walk. We also had a water ballon fight for everyone to cool off and have some fun. All in all, it was a successful event, and we hope to do it again next year!


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