Friday, 25 April 2014 07:53

TieCare International Service Learning Awards 2014

This year we launched a new effort to move toward Service Learning Experiences with greater ties to the curriculum.

CEESA has been a leader in supporting Community Service projects in our schools. This year we launched a new effort to move toward Service Learning Experiences with greater ties to the curriculum. In February we formed a small cadre of Service Learning Coordinators to learn more about designing the learning components for effective projects.

We want to thank TieCare International for their generous contribution to recognize Service Learning in the CEESA Region. In this second year of this program, we had 14 schools apply for this recognition. It was very difficult to select the recipients, as the schools are doing amazing projects. CEESA had our Service Learning Consultant, Cathy Berger Kaye, provide guidance in the selection of the awards recipients. We also want to thank Jostens for donating the award plaques.

The Five Schools CEESA recognized this year are:

American International School of Bucharest - Hospice Cada Sperantei

Initially students and teachers organized sports events (e.g. the famous ultimate Frisbee tournament) and found sponsors within the community to support Hospice. Three years ago, the emphasis of the Service Learning group switched to actively improving the quality of life of the children at Hospice by organizing play therapy visits for these children (and siblings) on a regular base.

The response from the AISB students and community has been great. Students meet weekly during lunch time to plan for the visits, fund raising or to meet with professionals from Hospice.

The program for each visit includes team work games, crafts and art, outdoors games, all of these having an important impact on the Hospice children, their parents and siblings, as well as on the students and teachers from AISB.

In 2014 a new Hospice in Bucharest will be build. The Hospice will have 20 beds for children with advanced cancer, a day centre and an out-patient clinic. At AISB we are already planning regular visits to the new Hospice to expand the play therapy and include patients who cannot visit our school. AISB students are also actively involved in planning recreational areas within the Hospice.

American International School of Zagreb - TechKopila: Kids Empowering Kids

Eight years later, she is now a mother to 44 children and has built the Kopila Valley School to educate some of Nepal’s neediest children.

As Suzy was preparing to make her third trip to Nepal as a volunteer at the Kopila Valley School. She was also teaching a unit to middle school students on communications and social media. She used Maggie’s story as a lesson on how social media can be used for positive change. The students looked at the ways Maggie had used social media to tell her story and build an audience of devoted followers. The students were inspired by what Maggie had already done and talked about ways that they could help.

This initiative was born out of the students’ desire to make a difference in the world and particularly how they could utilize social media to do that. The students decided to try and fill a need from the Wish List on Maggie’s website to equip a computer lab at the new Kopila Valley High School. They then embarked on a journey of discovery, to learn how we too would leverage social media to tell our story and raise $28,000 for the new computer lab in Nepal.

The International School of Prague - The Curator Challenge

The Curator Challenge began in 2010 in a planning session of how develop a better educational experience with a local museum, the Lobkowicz Palace. The Lobkowicz family had only just opened the museum and were still in the process of going through the many objects that had been restituted to them following the fall of communism in 1990. The Lobkowiczs are an old Czech noble family whose property had been taken from them twice in the 20th Century; first by the Nazis and then by the Soviets. They were faced with the task of curating the thousands of objects that had been restituted to them.

As we sat around a table discussing possible education ideas, I asked whether they would be willing to put these uncurated objects in the hands of students and allow them to be curators. This would give students the opportunity to be cultural anthropologists; discovering the historical narratives behind the many objects in the Lobkowicz’s storage depot. In the resulting project the students work in teams of 5 and are curators; researching and discovering the story behind their object; maintaining a research blog, deciding where the objects would be presented in the Lobkowicz Museum, and in the end making a final presentation at the Lobkowicz Palace for the museum curators and the whole community.

Pechersk School International Kiev - Design for Disadvantaged D4D

The project began with students mind mapping problems of disadvantaged people. Topics of economic, political, mental, and learning disadvantages were all raised at the beginning of the project. It allowed students to evaluate and reflection on their own and others’ disadvantages. They then investigated further by visiting an Orphanage for the Visually Impaired, and interviewing those children.

The director of the orphanage responded with great enthusiasm to the project. She was also very persistent on keeping consistency with the our students. As she said, ‘Once you begin, you must finish.’ This gave the students responsibility to the real-life users of their projects and also encouraged them to create a high quality product.

Then, students went back to school and began the designing and creating. They all worked diligently knowing that the project was going to be used in a real life situation. After testing and making final adjustments, student delivered the projects to the orphanage. There was great excitement for both PSI students and the orphanage. It was more than a design project; it was a shared learning experience for both parties. The project was about connection and community coming together through design. Finally, we could see that students were delighted talking and spending time with each other as there we using the designed products.

Taskent International School - Project 3580

Money was raised to help provide a new roof for the buildings, provide equipment and in 2011 a computer suite was built at the secondary school and equipped with a generator and 35 computers. The initial aim of the partnership, was to create sustainable projects; in 2011 the computer suite was the only one in Sierra Leone and the school were able to rent out the room to local companies, other schools and organizations, thus providing a regular income for the school to buy much needed food, uniforms, books and equipment as well as pay the teachers who don’t always receive their salaries from the government. From these beginnings the partnership developed and obtained charity status. The partnership grew to include an elementary school at the Kissi Town refugee camp, near to Waterloo.

Despite this growth the emphasis of the charity remained on developing sustainable charity work. The charity was still led from a secondary school in the UK, and the teachers realized that part of the work of the charity needed to be raising awareness of responsible charity work, allowing the young people who might enter into similar careers in the future to start learning about poverty, international aid and responsible charity work. Kate Sorrell was working at this UK school and felt inspired by the work that was being done as a service learning project. She was given the opportunity to develop the charity partnership to include an international school in Uzbekistan. In 2012, the International School of Tashkent became a partner of this charity, now connecting 5 schools across the world: in the UK, in Sierra Leone and in Uzbekistan. Currently ‘Project 3580’ is in its second year of running as a student led charity at TIS.

We had an anonymous donor give us another gift for us to award one school. 

This project exemplifies the highest levels of service learning

The American School of Warsaw - Global Politics in Action

The concept is fairly simple – actively incorporate service learning into the existing curriculum and offer students the option of signing up for the section of the course that has a service learning component.

This past year they redesigned the sophomore social studies course and adopted portions of the IB Global Politics curriculum.  As they designed this new course, they were able to select IB topics that fit well with certain service activities. The result was that Global Politics in Action students work with Chechen refugees at the Linin Refugee Center to complement their unit on immigration and refugees, and they work with children from a state-funded social welfare center called Chaberek weekly after school to complement their study of the concept of public goods and social responsibility. Various offshoots have developed out of the course, such as working with a joint Polish-Canadian ‘make-a-wish’ organization called Fundacja Dziecieca Fantazja and the Society for the Care of the Blind in Laski.

The Chechen community has responded very favorably to their monthly encounters, and ASW has initiated corollary activities such as inviting the children for a middle school play or elementary school games. The children at Chaberek have developed personal ties with ASW students. Juniors and seniors are carrying these connections into their CAS years, acting as leaders for various events.

There were three schools that we awarded honorable mentions to for their projects

Thank you to all schools who applied for your work in creating meaningful service learning project connected to the learning you design your schools.