When I took on the role of Creativity, Activity, Service (CAS) Coordinator, I had one very clear vision in mind for this school: ‘think global, act local’.
This phrase taken from the International Baccalaureate (IB) CAS Coordinator handbook is at the heart of everything I have tried to do this year in terms of creating a meaningful service programme for our students at GEMS.
There is undoubtedly a place in our curriculum for service opportunities overseas, but imagine what we could achieve as a school if we started engaging with the needs of the communities on our very doorstep?
What we need is a service programme that is meaningful and long-lasting, one that empowers our students and enables them to make genuine connections.
But where to start?
If we are to avoid ‘the castle on the hill’ scenario, surely we have to start by first opening our doors to the the community of Yishun itself?
Setting myself this challenge, I began to make connections with the community centres and wellness clinics dotted around the Yishun area.
And what a humbling and eye-opening journey it has been.
Building relationships takes time and I credit the grade 11 for being so open and for playing such an integral role in helping achieve this.
They have organised and run the Nee Soon Senior Badminton Tournament, they have signed up as pilots for Cycling Without Age to support our partnership with St Luke’s Eldercare, they have assisted with the community performance night of ‘Wizard of Oz’ – all as part of the service strand of the IB Diploma Programme CAS programme.
We still have a long way to go with our student service programme, but the foundations are now in place.
The charitable performance of Wizard of Oz last Thursday was a truly heart-warming experience.
The President of GWAPA, at a very last minute request from me, called upon the support of the parent community to donate snacks for the event.
In the room that night were a fantastic team of grade 9 to 11 students acting as ushers, a table full of snacks provided by GEMS parents, a roomful of smiling volunteers from the local community, 70+ students from a local Singaporean primary school, and the very talented cast of Wizard of Oz.
It was a wonderful collision of communities and is exactly what we aim to see more of here at GEMS Singapore.
Watch this space!
Rachel Cox, CAS Coordinator/Language and Literature
A very special thanks to some very special people who have helped and inspired me along the way this year – Marieke (GEMS parent and Cycling Without Age coordinator www.cyclingwithoutage.org) who gives up so much of her time everyday to benefit the lives of the elderly in Singapore; Kathleen Baccarini and the GWAPA team who are constantly running donation and volunteer trips and who work so tirelessly for the school community and who have run successful service trips; Jannette from www.siloamxperience.org who runs an amazing thriftstore next to our school and who I urge you all to go and meet!