Giving Back to the Community

By Lynn Yen 2022-07-06 12:50:17

A civilization is measured by how it treats its most vulnerable members. This ethos is attributed to Mahatma Gandhi, his beliefs, and how he lived out his life.

It can be easy while living in Shanghai to get stuck in the “Expat Bubble,” and lose an awareness and connection with what is happening around in the community and larger country.

Therefore it is important to have active encouragement and a channel to engage in community service, much of which schools encourage.

Community service projects allow us to connect with different groups around us that we may not have know about, and allows us to practice empathy.

Community service also challenges us to not only become aware of other realities beyond our day-to-day life, but also asks ‘What can you do about it?’

A responsibility of a good citizen is to actively contribute to aiding and solving societal problems.

So get out there and volunteer your time, your problem solving skills, your leadership skills, your project planning skills, and your empathy. Let these students show you the way.


Concordia International School Shanghai

Selena Morse, Grade 12


Where do you do volunteer student work?

I am engaged in volunteer work through Concordia’s Lily Project, a student-led organization. The Lily Project conducts work related to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal #5: Reducing gender inequality and empowering women. I hold fundraisers for Educating Girls of Rural China (EGRC) and serve in the Concordia community to promote feminine wellness.


What inspired you to take a role in helping the community?

As someone who is passionate about sustainability and finds great joy in helping others, I found the EGRC mission inspiring. The concept of creating a pathway for increased wide-spread education so that more people are equipped with the education needed to create positive global impact captivated me. I was excited to initiate the partnership between EGRC and the Lily Project to connect Concordia students interested in gender equality to a service opportunity that allowed them to apply their agency in a tangible way to help our outside community.


How do you hope the community outreach program can continue to improve?


It is my hope that the Lily Project can continue to effectively support EGRC by increasing our fundraising efforts and establishing relationships with EGRC sponsored students. Through this, students will not only be able to improve our world by helping young girls in impoverished communities to obtain quality education, but also create a network of encouragement and inspiration. Further support from within the Shanghai community would help to expand the Lily Project’s impact so that we are able to touch the lives of more young girls.


Shanghai Community International School

J. Haakon Gould, MYP Service Learning Coach / DP CAS Coordinator


What type of community outreach programs does your school have?

SCIS has a multifaceted approach to service learning. Virtual conferences allow students to connect with others around the region and globe, to become well- informed and brainstorm action plans focused on community concerns like youth mental health, inclusivity and belonging, and environmental degradation. It is also encouraged that our older students pursue avenues to volunteer locally. A strong pastoral program not only fosters investigation into topics, but builds leadership capacity and collaborative skills.

When considering community engagement, we believe that several principles should be kept in mind. Just a few include ethics, notions of justice and equity, sustainability, empathy, and flexibility. A key aspect is modeling the process of service learning for students internally. The support of an open- minded administration, enthusiastic faculty, and eager parents have made initiatives not only possible but thrive.

One such project is titled Community Voices. In Individuals and Societies class, concepts of fact versus perspective have come alive while uncovering generational views of historical events through student-generated memoirs for grandparents.

A prospect on the horizon is a collaboration with an elderly home. Multilingualism and musical creativity can be heard with music from around the world, which promotes intercultural understanding. The Mandarin Department contributes to understanding the country’s context. Community Voices ensures that we pause and reflect on our namesake.

In line with the IB, we are committed to “developing citizens who will create a better and more peaceful world.” Students first evaluate what it means to be a community member at school, then look at the bigger picture of global citizenship.


How are your students involved?

As part of the Middle Years Programme Personal Project, a Grade 10 student had partnered with Heart to Heart to carry out an exhibition. This exhibition raised funds for the Shanghai-based charity while showcasing incredible talent. The students spend months planning, volunteering, developing skills associated with photography, web design, and media.

During an Advisory session, the whiteboards are bursting with ideas. Student- led club ideas include gender equity in sport, interactively mapping the community, debating current events, and art advocacy. These leaders aim to motivate their peers to inquire, become knowledgeable, and ultimately make an impact.


Do you work with other communities in Shanghai and what is the nature of projects?


#SCISDragonfit is a wellness initiative that emphasizes curricular links, and also poses social media challenges that invite reflection from students, teachers, and parents. Whether it’s recording a conversation questioning ableist mainstream views, sharing a recipe and accompanying food story, or a creative writing piece about feelings on vulnerability after failure .

Lifeline is a 100% volunteer-run non- profit focused on mental health and provides confidential support across China. Planning alongside the Lifeline team has provided exceptional learning opportunities both in and out of the classroom.

Additionally, SCIS is committed to its ongoing support for Heart2Heart. Upper school students in the National Honor Society brainstormed events. While our early learners contributed their artistic skills for the Charity Auction.


Dulwich College Shanghai Pudong

Hana C, Year 10


Where do you do volunteer student work?

I am really excited by the work that the Blue Harbour Foundation Shanghai does, an organisation that supports people with autism in our city. So I set up the Blue Harbour Club in my school, Dulwich College Shanghai Pudong. We meet every week and we produce videos that fit with the needs of the organistaion to provide learning opportunities for autistic people.


What inspired you to take a role in helping the community?

My childhood friend in Singapore had similar Asperger’s Syndrome tendencies. I did research to better understand her, and when I reached Year 10, I decided to create this club to spread awareness about autism and provide members of the autism spectrum with resources that they need. I’m fortunate to be in a school that has many clubs that work towards educating children in China, Nepal and Uganda, readdressing gender inequality, and ending hunger, and many other things, but there were not any about autism. Our club consults with staff at the Blue Harbour Foundation to gather extensive research and make sure that what we do is needed and valuable.



How do you hope the community outreach program can continue to improve?


In the Blue Harbour Club, we hope that autistic individuals will be able to receive more opportunities to adapt and learn so that they have increased job opportunities and brighter futures. That is our main goal. I would love to see our community, in our school and in our city, learn and know more about Blue Harbour Foundation so that those with autism can get all the support they need. Finally, I want to encourage other teenagers to feel empowered to set up clubs on topics they are passionate about. The more good we can do in the world, the more individuals feel valued and the more our communities can thrive.