Service Learning: Compassion, Charity, and Future-Thinking
The Service Learning programme aims to nurture YCIS Shanghai students as ‘Servant Leaders’, teaching them compassion and charitable service. Service Learning allows students to make a difference, become aware of global issues, and actively participate in ideas that can create change within their classroom, school, community, and beyond. Wherever possible, Service Learning is embedded in the curriculum, changing the mindset of the students through significant, authentic experiences from Early Childhood Education (ECE) to Primary and Secondary.
In ECE, teachers have actively investigated how they can meaningfully weave global goals into the emergent curriculum and authentically extend appropriate learning for young children. “We have committed to set ourselves achievable goals. This means responding to emerging interests with a Service Learning lens,” said Ms Juliette Broomhall, Early Childhood Student Support Coordinator at YCIS Pudong. “This includes projects such as recycled art, creating more green spaces on campus, and reducing food waste through composting,” added Ms Bernadette Silcock, ECE Vice Principal at YCIS Puxi.
In Primary, one of the yearly Service Learning experiences at YCIS Pudong is the collaborative work of Year 1 and Year 4 with ‘Solar Buddies’. Students in both year groups work together to build lamps for children who need light to read and study in the evenings. Through this experience, students learn about places and people that are less fortunate and how the gift of light could impact learning. “Students gain valuable skills in building circuits and learn about the places where the lights get sent. They also learn collaboration and the importance of service to others who we do not know,” said Ms Andrea Griego, Character Education and Life Skills Coordinator at YCIS Pudong. At YCIS Puxi, a recent Service Learning project is the ‘Kindness Committee’. The committee was founded in August 2020 to improve the well-being of students in the community that need support with social skills and making friends. The members made kindness posters to place around the school, designed T-shirts for their unique group, and sold cookies to raise money to buy toys for children. “Following this amazing initiative, the committee members decided to spread their kindness further by visiting a local orphanage,” said Ms Kacy Chapman, Year 3 Co-Teacher at YCIS Puxi. “In March, the committee members went to ‘Shining Star’, an amazing home for children with visual impairment. They played with the children and took them donations of milk,” added Ms Chapman.
In Secondary, a recent Service Learning project is the ‘Stop Single Use Shanghai’ campaign to reduce the consumption of single-use plastic. Students are designing reusable water bottles, aiming to produce them and use them in school as part of the campaign. At YCIS Pudong, other initiatives include the student-run ‘Hope Beans’ coffee project, aiming to create a successful coffee business, and a Year 10 campaign on issues related to their ‘Global Perspectives’ course. “Students have been hosting events to raise awareness on issues that they studied in class, such as the importance of exercise and health,”said Mr Danial Siddiqi, Economics, Business and Global Perspectives Teacher and Service Learning Coordinator at YCIS Pudong. At YCIS Puxi, students have signed up as volunteers to support the ‘Pet Adoption Day’ event organised by the Shanghai Pet Adoption and Rescue Centre and did a beach cleaning at the Binjiang Forest Park. They have also teamed up with students from the Changning Special Needs Vocational Institute to participate in a basketball event organised by NBA China and have started a partnership with the local Dementia Centre. “Students help organise events in conjunction with the centre’s programme and volunteer as helpers in their regular activity sessions for early dementia patients,” explained Mr Liat Siang Tan, Student Activities Coordinator at YCIS Puxi.
Teachers’ Professional Development
YCIS Shanghai is committed to regularly evaluating progress in Service Learning projects and setting new goals. We audit all Service Learning activities in each section of the school, providing staff with an opportunity to think of new projects and ways to engage with students. Recently, teachers participated in a training session with Ms Cathryn Berger Kaye, a world-renowned Service Learning expert, author of many books, and advisor for schools worldwide. Teachers from different Yew Chung Foundation schools attended the event and, together with Ms Berger Kaye, explored innovative ways to embed Service Learning in the curriculum. “Ms Berger Kaye also showcased a useful tool called the ‘MISO model’, which we can use with our students to generate interest and ideas of Service Learning projects they would like to start,” said Ms Broomhall. “It was fantastic to have her lead the session,” Ms Broomhall added. Such events help further establish a culture of Service Learning in the school and inspire our staff and teachers with new ideas about how they work with the student body to deliver more opportunities in the future.
We look forward to further integrating Service Learning in our everyday school experiences and showing our students the long-lasting benefits of their actions for the wider community. Such learning will prepare them for a life of leading with a servant's heart, creating compassionate individuals who make tangible, positive changes in the world around them.