What’s new at in­ter­na­tional schools this month

Expat Living (Singapore) - - Life & Family -

Tell us about the col­lab­o­ra­tion be­tween ISS and Rainbow Cen­tre, a haven for chil­dren with mod­er­ate to se­vere spe­cial needs.

The nine-month cre­ative project was based around the trans­for­ma­tion of four com­mon­place Louis XV arm­chairs into art pieces that em­body con­cepts of aware­ness, in­clu­sion and em­pow­er­ment. Each chair was a vis­ual rep­re­sen­ta­tion of the dis­abil­i­ties that the Rainbow Cen­tre chil­dren live with. The chairs be­came part of a larger public ex­hi­bi­tion and a do­na­tion cam­paign that funded the con­struc­tion of a new wing at the Cen­tre.

Why is the project im­por­tant for ISS stu­dents?

This is one of many ex­am­ples of a “Cre­ativ­ity, Ac­tiv­ity, Ser­vice” (CAS) project un­der­taken by each stu­dent. It demon­strates how young peo­ple can make a dif­fer­ence, and help ad­dress world con­cerns. Their projects are global and di­verse, from build­ing a bas­ket­ball court for an In­done­sian or­phan­age to con­struct­ing boats to trans­port school­child­ren in the Philip­pines.

What’s the key take-home mes­sage for par­ents?

El­e­men­tary stu­dents are im­mersed in a va­ri­ety of mean­ing­ful projects de­signed to help them meet their IB learn­ing ob­jec­tives while de­vel­op­ing their so­cial and civic con­science. By high school, stu­dents’ per­sonal and in­ter­per­sonal growth, as recorded in their re­flec­tions, helps sup­port their ap­pli­ca­tions to higher ed­u­ca­tion. It’s the chil­dren’s own re­flec­tions, how­ever, that demon­strate the depth of their ex­pe­ri­ence. One stu­dent said she found ways to over­come her per­sonal com­mu­ni­ca­tion bar­ri­ers with the Rainbow Cen­tre chil­dren, while an­other said work­ing with kids with dis­abil­i­ties showed her that any­thing is pos­si­ble.

I started at UWCSEA in Au­gust 2015. On com­plet­ing my sec­ondary ed­u­ca­tion at an all-girl public board­ing school in Nairobi, Kenya’s cap­i­tal, I was un­sure what ca­reer path I would fol­low. I fig­ured that UWC, with its wide choice of sub­jects, ex­per­tise and fa­cil­i­ties, would help me work out what to pur­sue.

The prospect of study­ing with peo­ple from vastly dif­fer­ent back­grounds and cul­tures was very ap­peal­ing. My pre­vi­ous school was a small bub­ble; ev­ery­one had al­most the same per­spec­tive. I wanted a challenge, and knew this would be pos­si­ble with the exposure to world is­sues that UWC con­tin­u­ally pro­vides.

Ad­just­ing to the board­ing life­style was bit­ter­sweet. It was my first ex­pe­ri­ence of liv­ing in a dif­fer­ent coun­try, with­out my fam­ily, and the cul­ture shock was ev­i­dent. How­ever, the board­ing house staff and com­mu­nity were warm and wel­com­ing. They helped me set­tle down and were al­ways there in case I had any prob­lems. I was afraid I would drown in this big com­mu­nity, but with the at­ten­tion and in­di­vid­ual care we re­ceive, it’s im­pos­si­ble for that to hap­pen.

The board­ers are from di­verse back­grounds and cul­tures, so the dis­cus­sions over din­ner are in­ter­est­ing! We ar­gue, dis­cuss, de­fend the stances of our coun­tries, and even cor­rect mis­guided as­sump­tions. At one of the reg­u­lar In­ter­na­tional Evenings, we sim­u­lated a Kenyan wed­ding for the board­ing house com­mu­nity, and other board­ers pre­sented songs, dances and in­ter­est­ing facts. This was an ef­fec­tive way to come to­gether and tap into the rich cul­ture em­bod­ied by the school. A favourite mem­ory is when my Hon­duran friend sur­prised me with the lyrics of a Kenyan-swahili song.

UWCSEA’S wide va­ri­ety of ac­tiv­i­ties has made me more con­fi­dent, vo­cal and pas­sion­ate about world is­sues. I’ve par­tic­i­pated in The Hague Model United Na­tions in The Nether­lands, acted as a Chi­nese im­pe­rial ad­min­is­tra­tor in a school drama pro­duc­tion, helped raise funds to aid re­for­esta­tion ef­forts, and learnt self-de­fence skills in mar­tial arts.

On com­ple­tion of my stud­ies I in­tend to go to the US to ma­jor in in­ter­na­tional re­la­tions with a mi­nor in en­vi­ron­men­tal pol­icy, and re­turn to Kenya to make a dif­fer­ence within my field. Be­ing a UWC scholar is a life- long com­mit­ment to tak­ing de­ci­sive steps to be a change maker in so­ci­ety. In learn­ing from oth­ers I hope to make the fu­ture safer, sus­tain­able and more peace­ful.

MARCH 2017

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