Service Learning enables our students to grow as unique individuals and to recognise their role in relation to others. It encourages empathy and experiential learning– acquiring knowledge through direct experience.
Service Learning is highly valued at ISWA – it is embedded in our curriculum through the International Baccalaureate:
- Primary Years Programme, through the development of student agency
- Middle Years Programme’s ‘Community Project’
- Diploma Programme’s ‘Creativity, Action and Service (CAS)’ unit
Our teachers use Service Learning to make abstract subjects real for our students. Student-led community service complements our academic programme in a holistic way, providing opportunities for self-determination, collaboration, accomplishment, and enjoyment.
“Agency is the power to take meaningful and intentional action, and acknowledges the rights and responsibilities of the individual, supporting voice, choice and ownership…”International Baccalaureate Organisation, November 2017
International Service-Learning Expeditions
Our International Service-Learning Expeditions have become part of our culture of service at ISWA. Each year, students from year 9 to 12 are given the opportunity to venture overseas and beyond their comfort zones to explore and serve other communities. Our students’ reflections of these trips are very telling. They often feel transformed by their experiences, giving them a perspective on the world, and the drive to plan their own activities.
Read on for a snapshot of some of the incredible journeys our students have been on at our last few expeditions.
The 2017 Service Trip engaged students with hill-tribe people in north-western Thailand. Students had the opportunity to join the family for a few nights at the Rustic Pathways Children’s Home, teaching in a local public school, and tutoring the local students. They immersed themselves in the Karen culture during a homestay in a nearby village where they worked on development projects and spent time with the local community.
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, while exploring the famous UNESCO World Heritage site of Luang Prabang. We also had 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.
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.
ISWA in Cambodia
Twenty students from ISWA undertook an expedition to Cambodia where they participated in a number of different project, including The Cambodia Children’s Project in Kampong Cham.
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 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!
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, mathematics, 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 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!