Community service activities are on the rise at all of our schools. These wide ranging activities have included charity book drives, participating in community events, trash pickup days, and more. Kandace Jones, a science teacher at BASIS International School Hangzhou, recently shared with us about her experience working with students on these projects and the impact and growth she has seen in them as a result.
What inspired you to become involved in community service activities with the school?
Being here at BASIS International School Hangzhou, as I spoke with students about people who struggle, or global impact on the environment, I recognized an opportunity to broaden their awareness and involvement.
Recognizing that most of our students have a strong desire to go to universities in America, I inquired about community service and whether we had a program to help students earn community service hours, which are an important part of college applications. When I was applying for universities and completing my community service hours it made me feel more accomplished and like I was making a difference in the lives of others and for the environment, and I wanted our students to have a similar perspective and experience. So, I kept asking how I could start a program at the school and luckily this school year I finally had the opportunity to work with high school students that were interested not only in helping others but also in the environment.
Do you have a community service project/activity that has been a personal favorite?
Our students recently volunteered at a Walk-a-thon to benefit “Smile for Mothers” and I truly enjoyed being there. I work out just about every day so I loved seeing people walking and running, making themselves more healthy and also raising money for such an amazing cause. During the event there were many people that would stop and ask me where I was from in English and they were all very friendly. More than anything I was happy to see the students take the initiative to be so involved as this was an event they found on their own.
What benefits do you see these community service activities having for students? Do you see benefits for teachers as well?
Participating in community has many benefits for the students. The most important benefit is that the students are learning about the trials and tribulations that others endure. They get to see resilience in people. The students are being active members of the community, they are acquiring knowledge about various areas of life, and simply participating in a real-life experience that helps provide a service to those that need it the most. For me there is a huge benefit of being able to witness the personal growth in the students and being a part of the whole thing. As a teacher, participating in this club also allowed me to form a connection to my students in a different light. It’s one thing to have the students in class, but a completely different relationship is formed outside of the classroom.
As a science teacher, are there any community activities/projects that have allowed for learning opportunities for students outside of the classroom?
Being a science teacher has enabled me to open the eyes of my students in terms of the impact on the environment and educating them at the same time. For example, in the mornings we would pick up trash around the school and the surrounding neighborhood. The students at first didn’t think that there would be a significant amount of trash around the school, but this was because there were people that would pick it up every day. So we would go out at 7 a.m. in the morning and the students were amazed at the amount of trash that was left every night on the streets. I then would explain what materials were biodegradable and which weren’t and we would talk about the effects of the waste materials on the environment and even animals. We would end up picking up from 2 – 4 kg of waste each day that we went out, and the students then calculated the amount of waste that potentially is left on the streets just in a month, a year, and over the course of 10 years. We also discussed the long term effects of the amount of trash and how one day there will not be enough space to maintain the current amounts of waste.
How has BASIS International School Hangzhou supported these activities?
BASIS International School Hangzhou has supported these efforts by providing recycling bins and trash bins for the club to dispose of the trash that we would find on the streets. They also provided us with gloves each day. Alan Wilkinson (Head of School), Arthur Su (General Manager), and Simon have also been extraordinarily supportive with anything that the club has asked to do.
Are there any future projects in the works?
The group is planning on continuing in their efforts to raise money for children with cleft pallet. The students recently have been selling t-shirts that they created to continue raising money for the cause.
Kandace Jones is a Science teacher at BASIS International School Hangzhou. Originally from New Jersey, USA, she has been teaching abroad for five years in Spain, Kuwait, and China.
Visit our careers site for more information about teaching with BASIS International Schools.