Service Learning is something we value very highly at ISWA as it enables students to demonstrate attributes of the Learner Profile in real and practical ways, to grow as unique individuals and to recognise their role in relation to others. Community Service complements a challenging academic programme in a holistic way, providing opportunities for self-determination, collaboration, accomplishment and enjoyment.
In recent years, a highlight for our students has been our annual international service learning expeditions, with students visiting Thailand (2012), Cambodia (2013), Vietnam (2014) and Laos (2015).
In 2012, our first service learning expedition involved students in Years 10 - 12 travelling to Thailand for 10 days. This was an exciting step in the development of a committed culture of service at ISWA. The students spent time at the Hill Tribe Orphanage where they worked with local students helping them with reading, writing, maths and computer skills. Students then visited the Baan Rai School where they assisted with teaching English. From there they travelled to the Hill Tribe Village where they lived in quite basic conditions (limited electricity, squat toilets and bucket showers). In the village the students helped with local projects. This included installing water tanks, building a toilet block and helping with constructing new huts. The days started early with roosters crowing at 4:32am!
In 2013, twenty students from Years 10-12 undertook a 10 day expedition to Cambodia. A highlight was working at The Cambodia Children’s Project in Kampong Cham, where they participated in a number of different projects. The students learned a myriad of new skills, including how to lay bricks and paint. They also constructed gardens that allowed the local children to grow and sell their own vegetables.
After a hard morning’s physical work each day, students headed to the local school to teach English. The school had very poor facilities and the local children rarely had rarely come into contact with English speakers. Time here was greatly valued by all – it was an exhilarating experience to stand and teach in front of a class of 40 young Khmer students!
In December 2014, our students travelled to Vietnam. They worked at a school in a village four hours out of Hanoi, constructing low walls to surround the trees in the school yard. The trip really opened the eyes of our students to the Vietnamese people and their culture, enabling them to experience and support a local community as well as learning more about themselves and how to work together in a group.
In December 2015, nineteen intrepid Year 10-12 students and staff members set off on a 10 day journey to Laos. The exciting trip combined service learning projects to build a school block, teach English and establish a water supply in a rural hill tribe village, with exploring the famous UNESCO World Heritage site of Luang Prabang. We would also have the privilege of taking care of the incredible animals of the Lao Elephant Conservation Centre. Through this powerful experience, our students had the opportunity to contribute in real and practical ways towards the lives and opportunities of others.