1. Beyond New Zealand

    June 12, 2024 by Rianon T.

    Driving Question:

    How can I promote global awareness in New Zealand youth through teaching primary school students about different countries and cultures around the world?

    Product output from this module:

    A collection of classes I have taught and lesson plans inspired by the classes I teach and the different countries. 

    Module Summary:

    Rianon, from New Zealand, undertook a service learning project called “Beyond NZ” to address the lack of global awareness among New Zealand primary school students. Geographic isolation has made New Zealand a peaceful country but has also limited its interaction with the rest of the world. Rianon observed that New Zealand’s education, especially at the primary level, is heavily focused on local content, leading to cultural insensitivity, limited problem-solving skills, and ineffective communication.

    To tackle this issue, Rianon reconnected with her old primary school, where her former teacher became her external mentor. She observed his teaching methods and then taught classes herself. Her goal was to inspire interest in global awareness through engaging and fun lessons about different countries. Rianon taught six classes with three different teachers, totaling eight hours of teaching time. The students, aged 8 to 9, were taught about Botswana, South Korea, and India.

    For Botswana, Rianon shared personal stories from her travels and had the students create informational posters. The South Korea lesson included fun facts and cultural traditions, and the students planned their own trips. The India lesson focused on cultural diversity and celebrations, ending with a competitive quiz.

    Rianon used visual communication and collaborative activities to keep the students engaged. Although she acknowledges that the project didn’t change the primary school education system, it successfully made the world seem a little closer for these children in Devonport, New Zealand.

  2. Waste Disparities

    June 13, 2023 by Siphokazi S.

    Project Summary:

    Siphokazi S., a senior from South Africa, highlighted the unfulfilled promises of democracy in South Africa since 1994, particularly focusing on the persistent challenges faced by the 47 million South Africans living in townships. These townships, originally designed to segregate non-whites, continue to be plagued by unsafe conditions, poor education, and high unemployment, all exacerbated by economic disparities and failing municipal services.

    Faced with this vast systemic problem, Siphokazi decided to address the waste management aspect, leveraging her education, expertise, and connection to the community. Fluent in Isizulu and deeply familiar with the local issues, she aimed to create impactful change at the grassroots level.

    Siphokazi partnered with Birches and Eco School, whose curriculum focuses on sustainable lifestyles, to implement a similar framework in a government school. She taught life orientation (ALO) sessions to grade three students, emphasizing their rights and responsibilities, which were inadequately addressed by the current educational system.

    In collaboration with DSW (Durbin Solid Waste) and PET Recycling, Siphokazi drafted a contract to bring waste management education and facilities to the school. She conducted three sessions with the students, teaching them how to manage waste effectively. Additionally, she set up a Waste Management Center at the school and created Isizulu posters to reinforce the teachings.

    The initiative resulted in the collection of three tons of paper, two tons of plastic, half a ton of tin, and a ton of cardboard, generating 400 rand per month. The revenue was reinvested into the school to improve classroom environments.

    Siphokazi’s project demonstrated the significant impact young students can have on their community. She envisions expanding this framework to other schools across South Africa, believing that true freedom requires more than just voting—it demands active, meaningful actions and services.

    Siphokazi’s efforts reflect her mother’s advice: to act on what she believes in, striving for a better, more sustainable future for her community.

  3. English for Afghan Women

    by Mehdia S.

    Project Summary:

    Mehdia S, a senior student from Afghanistan, embarked on a mission to support women in her home country facing severe restrictions on education and social participation imposed by the Taliban since their takeover in August 2021. Recognizing the critical impact of these bans, which have left millions of girls without access to schooling or higher education, Mehdia launched the “English for Afghan Women” program to enhance English language and soft skills among Afghan girls.

    Far from Afghanistan, Mehdia found a way to contribute meaningfully by founding the English language program under the Afghan Youth Empowerment Camps, an organization she co-founded in 2019. This program, initiated from September to December, focused on developing reading, writing, speaking, and listening skills to elevate students’ proficiency from beginner to intermediate levels.

    The program attracted around 300 applicants, from which students were selected based on their academic needs. Mehdia and her team organized classes, assigned tasks, and provided weekly feedback and quizzes to monitor progress. The initiative also involved recruiting volunteers who received letters of recommendation for their contributions.

    The project concluded with the distribution of certificates to participants, marking the successful completion of the program. Through this initiative, Mehdia aimed to empower Afghan women, believing strongly in the transformative power of educating women for the broader societal good. As she noted, “If you educate a man, you educate an individual; but if you educate a woman, you educate a nation.”

  4. Understanding Mental Health

    July 22, 2022 by Noemie T.

    Driving Question: How can I de-stigmatize mental illness through information and awareness?

    Project Description: For her service-learning project, Class of 2022 Senior Noemie created lessons around understanding the fundamentals of mental health.

    These include understanding what mental health is, what factors can affect mental health, understanding mental illness, keeping yourself and others safe, and how and where to reach out or find help. Noemie then presented these seminars to students at TGS due to being unable to complete the seminars at home due to Covid.

    Project Reflection:
    I learned so much from this experience, and I am so grateful that I got the opportunity to complete this project and hopefully help at some people understand this topic better. This project was very important to me as, growing up in NZ, I have had so many experiences seeing the effects of poor mental health on peers and people within my community, so it meant so much to be able to be part of the road to a better future around this topic.

  5. Por un Lago Azul: Cleaning Up Valle

    May 21, 2020 by Maria D.

    Driving Question: How can I organize a trash clean up event in my community to positively impact the environment?

    Project Overview:

    I’ve seen the forest back at home gone through all types of natural and unnatural transformations. Every time I visit, there is a trail of evidence that demonstrates the presence of humans. I think it is extremely important to address the relevance and impact of maintaining these spaces clean. Especially when it comes to a natural reserve that is filled with flora and fauna. My project, Por un Lago Azul, is the beginning of a Trash Clean Up campaign in my community that aims to provide spaces and tools to facilitate reflection. I wanted to organize a clean up event that had a meaningful value for the community that could also meet academic needs.

  6. Are You Sure? Offering Business Strategy Tips in Panama

    by Scott H. and Levith C.

    Driving Question: How can we teach the concepts of branding, marketing, and project management to build a fashion brand?

    Project Overview: We developed this service project to help local Panamanian fashion entrepreneurs Maale & Lorena build their streetwear brand, Sure. We did so by designing a website, graphics, and by offering business strategy through regular phone calls. We found the work to be more rewarding than initially expected. In this process, we not only discovered a passion for graphic design but also became passionate about the future of the project. Are You Sure refers to the branding we came up with in conjunction with the two young women.

    During the fifth week, right before heading to WeXplore in Venao, Principal Russell Cailey asked for volunteers to help two of the girls at Hairarchy build a business website for a fashion brand. There we realized they were missing other important elements of their business so we decided to help.

    As to who they are exactly, Maale and Lore are two Colombian girls that moved to Panama and began working in Hairarchy Casco. Lore is a bartender at La Bárbara, the speakeasy that operates at the back of the salon and Maale is the receptionist for the salon. They are both passionate, creative, and entrepreneurial people that love to use art to communicate with the world around them and they both love music!

    It was also great to have our hard work recognized by two of the other members of their team, Ryan and Dave. One thing led to another, and Levith and I got offered a part in the brand if we continued with the project. The service project has become a passion project, and we very eager to see its development in the future.

  7. Transforming an Abandoned Building Into a Socio-Cultural Center

    May 20, 2020 by Ina B.

    Driving Question: What is a meaningful community project that I can provide to meet the needs of my local community?

    Project Description: In collaboration with a Belgian, a Kosovar and a Macedonian NGO, my friends and I turned an abandoned building into a socio-cultural space. We transformed a potential threat for a neighborhood and a city at large into an opportunity for personal and community development. This project aims to reinforce existing local initiatives of young people and to guide that sense of initiative into concrete results.

    The building was transformed in a matter of two weeks, and although there are still quite a few basic necessities missing, we’ve been able to start projects, keep it open during warm days, and organize events. The center is located in the suburbs of Tirana, which is not ideal as it is far away from the center, however it really provides insight into the aim of this space as it directly faces the reality of a marginalized community.

    Uzina is a socio-cultural space with the aim of empowering the local community to transform ideas into action. We hope to bring about a Decentralized Renaissance in art, the politics of life, and culture. The goal of Uzina is to cultivate and encourage empathy, compassion, altruism and prosocial engagement. We continuously work (and play) to promote love for people, nature, culture and learning.

    What were your goals for this project? We wanted to bring to life an old industrial building and build a connection amongst different organizations/groups of people who share a common goal.

    By bringing together a diverse group of young people from different countries, and by working together to build this new space, we wanted to create an educational and social dynamic. Through collaborative project management, the participants gained and shared skills, deepened their understanding of other cultures, and felt part of a bigger whole.
    By practicing collective group processes, participants had the opportunity to express themselves, and to experiment with ways of decision-making and executing them in joint cooperation.

    What are you most proud of? I am proud to have persisted through unimaginable challenges while managing to adapt the project to different circumstances without changing the primary purpose.

    The project was initially going to take place as a community program in a socio-cultural center, but then there was a risk of the social-center being shut down. I decided to transform the program into an after-school module that would take place in a classroom setting. COVID-19 occurred, which meant the module couldn’t be implemented during that timespan. And that led to the creation of a creativity module handbook, which can be used to design and facilitate an after-school creativity module for students 10-12 years old.

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