Monday, 06 July 2015 09:22

Bridges Across Divisions, Bridges Across Borders

The American International School of Budapest Service Learning Project with the Salonta Children’s Home in Romania.


As part of their Rights and Responsibility unit, third grade students learned about children’s rights and responsibilities, how to take care of their rights and how to take action to raise awareness and make a difference in other children’s lives.

As part of the third grade Action Plan for this unit, the students organized, promoted, gathered, priced and sold items at the Third Grade Flea Market to the fourth and fifth grade students. The question raised was who to support?

The High School National Honor Society students had started a service project seven years ago to support an orphanage in Romania. When the project started there were twenty children at the
Salonta orphanage. Today the children’s home takes care of about one hundred children. This was definitely a project that the third grade could join.

High School students came to explain the project to grade three students and it was decided that with the money they raised, matched by our PSA, we could purchase playground equipment, sand toys, soccer goals and games for the children. 3F also connected with their first grade-reading buddies to make simple books about animals for the children in Salonta to read and enjoy during the mini English lessons with High School students.

On April 24th, sixteen high school students, Madame Fabiny, (high school language teacher and National Honor Society Adviser) and Mr. Fayarchuk  (Grade 3 teacher) made the four-hour trip by school bus to Salonta to strengthen our connection and share the sports equipment and toys with the children. One of the most anticipated moments is the sharing of our students’ letters to their Pen Pals in Salonta. As part of the English lesson, the high school students helped the children write back to our students. Another group of our students prepared lunch for the ninety plus children and helpers. It was a busy Saturday to be sure!

The atmosphere at the Salonta Children’s Home is absolutely unique. The children come from very adverse living conditions yet they love to play, laugh, and spend time with our students. As soon as we arrived, our high school group jumped right in and began playing games or teaching the kids English. Making deeper connections with these beautiful children and most of all spending time with them are two of the most important aspects of this trip.

Madame Fabiny, who organizes the trips, does an exceptional job of giving our high school students an opportunity to help those less fortunate by making connections and having fun doing it! Thanks to a grade 11 fundraiser, we were able to purchase a projector and transform the dining room into a cinema. Everyone enjoyed the Friday movie night with popcorn.

On Saturday, our group was also able to visit two families in the area, whose circumstances are very unfortunate. The visits to these families are an eye opener for our students. As a result of
these visits, they learn and understand the cycle of poverty and how important educations is. Our group brings donations of food and treats for the children. Our students realize why these people need to be cared for and why their children are given the opportunity to live at Salonta Children’s Home where they attend school, get regular meals and proper clothes and feel supported. In short, they can see that coming to Salonta Children’s Home is a life changing opportunity for those children and a chance to have a better future.

This trip is a heartwarming, inspiring and powerful experience to see first hand how members of our school community, high school and elementary students, parents, and teachers can make a significant, lasting difference by the bridges we have established with the children and caretakers from Salonta.  By their sharing time, energy and smiles, our connections continue to grow stronger.

This service learning trip that we take twice a year has become a permanent fixture in the AISB school community. We are fortunate to have so many generous parents, students and teachers who have helped out over the past 7 years and it is our hope to continue to support and foster our special relationship with the children and their caretakers at the Salonta Children’s Home. This experience has brought together the entire community, from high school students, to elementary students in first and third grade, to parents and teachers in all divisions. All contribute in a meaningful way to help make a significant difference in the lives of the Salonta Children.