Service as Action Reflections

Over the past 4 years, as I have been in school,  I have been participating in many service events that have improved my life and others’.  Now I can look back on what this service has done for me and my community

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

During many of the service events I do, the activities I participate in highlight my skill at organizing and being a leader. For example, when I was a volunteer Assistant stage manager for Starlit Voice, I had to organize and take care of all the younger actors, about 30 kids. In this job, I had to organize costume pick-ups, organize free time, and make sure the children followed the schedule of the play. I was able to use my leadership skills to convey instructions to the kids, and I was able to organize all of them, and the play went very smoothly.

However, while planning my service project for Civics last year, I realized that the things I am good at organizing are short-term and that I am very unfamiliar with planning big, long-term projects. Here, as I had to plan a project that spanned the summer, I realized I had a lot of room to grow when it comes to long-term planning.

When I Joined the Lilypad program, I was able to use my leadership and organization skills to become a great buddy to a grade 1 kid. I Found I was really good at organizing fun games and activities on top of our assigned reading. This experience also showed me how I am actually very good at inventing fun and engaging ways to teach something, as I was able to keep the kids interested in the more academic material we had to cover.
2. How did you undertake challenges that developed new skills?

When I was volunteering with Starlit Voice, I had to learn how to make a show run smoothly, as I was in charge of organizing the younger actors at night. I had to learn how to successfully give instructions and be a leader, yet have positive interactions with and engage the actors. I also learned a lot about how a stage production works in the mornings. For example, one day I had to organize props and I learned all about how they must be set up and labeled so they don’t get lost, and how we separate stage left and right, and how we keep track of every prop taken and given back on a sheet. This way, every actor would not have to do any work to find their prop during the show.
3. How did you discuss, evaluate and plan student-initiated activities?

My Civics project was entirely organized by students. Me and my partner evaluated deadlines and schedules and planned the activities and what would happen during the sale we were going to do. We also had to constantly evaluate our plans as sometimes schedules wouldn’t work out, or one person didn’t follow the action plan.

When I was marshaling, I had more practice organizing and evaluating my own plans. The section had to be very efficient in handing out life jackets and helping the kids get them on and off, and sending them in the right way. We had to discuss and figure out the best and fastest way to do this. Throughout the race, we also had many challenges as some people would get nervous, get hurt, or would maybe even get slowed down by my station. Because of this, we had to remain flexible. I would constantly evaluate the effectiveness of our section, and adjust parts of the setup to make one part of the section go faster, or to accommodate for a nervous kid.
4. How did you persevere in action?

At Starlit Voice, I had a lot of trouble figuring out how I would fit into the process. The first day, I found myself very unsure about what or how to help out. I had to learn a lot about how I should be running things. I spent a lot of the first day walking around and looking at things. Before becoming in charge of something, I had to learn how to do the job properly. However, because I did this, I was able to learn the tricks of the trade quickly. For example, on the first day, I tended to do odd, easy jobs like printing papers, or putting up posters and taking attendance. The second day, as I got more familiar with the cast and crew, I worked more with the cast and organizing entrances, exits and free time. I had persevered through the first day, and became very helpful the second day, as I knew exactly what to do.
5. How did you work collaboratively with others?

I have to collaborate for most of my service events. When marshaling, we all had to come together and discuss how we would run our section smoothly. To do this, we all had to play to our strengths. Because we put people in places where they worked the best, our collaboration led to a very efficient section. When working at Lilypad, I have to collaborate with the other volunteers to help make the activities run smoothly and lead the kids in the right direction. Sometimes we might have to share and work together in the activity too. With activities like this, we have to collaborate to create engaging activities for the kids and make the learning fun.
6. How did you develop international-mindedness through global engagement, multilingualism, and intercultural understanding?

During my grade 9 Experience week, I got to learn about a culture I had never fully explored before. My prior knowledge of the Maori culture from learning about it through my kiwi heritage was deepened on the trip. At a visit to Lake Waikaremoana, I got to explore the struggles of the native Maori Kiwis people as Europeans settled in New Zealand. As I explored the park, it greatened my appreciation for the struggles of other people to preserve the environment and their beliefs and culture.

When reading to the grade 1 students at our school, you can get a good feeling of  international community. The program not only teaches the grade 1s content that furthers their education through an international lens (as we are an international school), but can develop strong relationships between grade 1 and 10, between many different kinds and races of people. This sense of international community is developed through many of my service initiatives, as I have worked in many different kinds of places, in international organizations (CDNIS, Starlit Voice) and local organizations (Team Fear, where I was a marshall) Through these experiences, I developed relationships with people from all around the globe, and from a multitude of cultures and backgrounds.
7. How did you consider the ethical implications of your actions?

When developing our plan for our Civics service project, we had to consider that we were dealing with sensitive mental disorders, and had to be careful. We wanted to make the process anonymous. When operating the booth, we had to make sure none of the products were too specific to a disorder, so if one did have a problem, it wouldn’t be obvious if they bought something. We also sold silly stress-relieving toys, so if someone wanted actual help, they could get advice along with a toy, so as to hide the actual intentions of buying a help product.