Across our school network, every school community is actively involved in charity and service initiatives, both in their local area and across China. Encouraging our students to develop compassion and awareness of the needs of others is a critical component of ensuring they become well-rounded and globally aware learners.

Students at our schools have the opportunity to propose an idea for a student-led club, driven by their own interest and passion. A faculty advisor comes on board to help guide the club, and then the club is presented to school leadership for approval.

At BASIS International School Nanjing, the Public Service Club is the school’s first student-run, student-led After School Activity club and they are off to a great start. The club, with the help and support of parents, teachers, and other members of the school community, held a large charity sale in the summer of 2021 where thirty booths led to over 18,000 sales raising money for schools in less privileged communities.

Read more from club leader Ady J., and faculty advisor William Jarrett about the important vision and work of the school’s first student-run club.

BASIS International School Nanjing Public Service Club

The star of the show is Ms. Ady Jiang, a rising 7th grader here at BASIS International School Nanjing. I had the pleasure of teaching Ady when she was in the fifth grade. Towards the end of that year, in the spring of 2020, she approached me to proofread and edit a letter she was planning to give our head of school, Dr. Mark Starbuck, requesting permission to start and lead her own After School Activity: a Public Service Club.

Ady was already a standout student and this selfless spirit of hers impressed me even further, so I told her that if she needed a faculty sponsor that I would be more than willing to support her in any way. The ASA was instantly approved and young Ms. Jiang can rightly claim that she was the first to start a student-led ASA at BASIS International School Nanjing.

October 2020 began our ASA ‘season’ and poor Ady was in tears after her first presentation. It was quite intimidating for a 6th grader to talk to 9th and 10th graders in broken English and try to present ideas and activities for the club to pursue throughout the year as well as express her vision. However, she kept her head up, came right back the next week, and spoke with more determination and intention. I could not have been more proud of her.

With each successive meeting, Ady’s confidence grew as she grew into her leadership role. Initially, the club made colorful PSA posters to place all around our campus to raise student awareness about saving water, how to recycle properly (in December 2020 Nanjing instituted a city-wide recycling initiative), and how to properly dispose of masks–an unfortunate new environmental issue.

In May, it was finally time to take the club off campus and truly make it ‘public.’ Prior to joining BASIS International School Nanjing, Ady had already had three years of public service work under her belt by volunteering with a charity organization. In fact, in the summer of 2020 between 5th and 6th grade, she led a small group of her new classmates from BASIS to deliver school supplies, raised through her charity work, to schools in poor communities in rural China. This experience was the impetus and motivation behind a new charity drive with proceeds again going to the same rural schools as before.

Public Service Club event at BASIS International School Nanjing

Ady served as the linchpin between her outside charity organization, BASIS International School Nanjing, and the rural schools receiving the funds, and she pulled off a truly remarkable feat. On Saturday June 5th, over 40 students and their parents set up more than 30 different stalls selling anything from stationary to school supplies, to toys, plants, aquarium fish, new and used books, and student created arts and crafts, with everything on sale for 1,5,10 RMB (less than, or just over $1 USD).

However, the crown jewel of the event was the Chinese Magazine. Several time each year, the Chinese Language teachers across the BASIS International Schools-China network compile students’ artwork, essays, prose, and poetry into a magazine. By coincidence, it was BASIS International School Nanjing’s turn to put the end of the year magazine together. Ady worked closely with our Chinese teachers Ms. Bao and Ms. Wang to make this magazine the focal point of the charity sale. Purchasers could pay any price they wished, knowing that all proceeds would benefit children attending schools in less privileged communities. In addition, Ady worked with the leader of the School Senate, Ms. Zoe S., to organize older students to volunteer to sell the magazine. Due to their great efforts, the magazines sold out within an hour.

teachers at BASIS International School Nanjing Public Service Club event

Between the magazine’s success, and the sale of all kinds of knick-knacks, impromptu stage performances by our primary school students, a planned “Up-town Funk” dance routine choreographed by our drama teacher, Ms. Mason-Rushbrook, and a genuine spirit of camaraderie and goodwill amongst our volunteers, the afternoon was tremendous, raising nearly $8,000 USD in three hours. More importantly, this event promoted a spirit of giving to help those less fortunate.

BASIS International School Nanjing Public Service Club event

Philanthropy in China is not common. We take this for granted in America where we see the benefits of giving in the museums we frequent; the specialized hospital wings we hope to never visit, or the university facilities we get to enjoy as students and faculty. A spirit of philanthropy runs deep in our nation’s culture, and this began with the contributions of John Smithson, an Englishman who donated his wealth to a new nation.

Just a few years ago, Bill Gates, Warren Buffett and a few other wealthy Americans came to China to meet with the country’s billionaires to encourage them to give to museums, hospitals, universities and other public institutions. They wanted to spread this idea of giving back to their own communities to make them stronger.

It will be the combined efforts of people like Bill Gates and Ms. Ady Jiang that build, promote, and spread this idea of giving and helping those who have less here in China.

“Much is expected from those who have more,” and Ms. Jiang has demonstrated and proven that she is willing to do all she can for others. It is no wonder that she is consistently nominated by her teachers for student of the week honors. It is not just academic intelligence, but kindness, generosity of spirit and strength of character that define who she is.

– William Jarrett, Geography teacher

“Hello! My name is Ady, and this club is about public welfare and serving our community. This is not my first time doing this kind of work as I first began to do charity work in 2016. After a gap year to focus on studying for school, in late 2017, I organized a group to continue doing community service. We have done more than 20 projects throughout these years. We went to different areas: Jiangning District of Nanjing, Danyang in Zhenjiang, and Jin County in Anhui Province. In these areas we took care of the young in orphanages, delivered large quantities of food and daily necessities to the elderly in welfare houses, and helped street-cleaners sweep the roads. All these projects were organized and completed by the group I founded and led. We really appreciate doing this work because we learn how to share, love, and care for others. We enjoy the happiness of helping others.”

– Ady J., Grade 7 student

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