Doing and experiencing are key components of meaningful learning. Indeed, our learning process should go far beyond the frontiers of the classroom. As learners, we can demonstrate a personal commitment to service and act to make a positive difference in the lives of others and to the environment.
The WISS Education rests on four pillars of learning: Academics, Sports, Arts, and Community Service. Learning by doing service helps us connect with our communities and makes us agents of change. Even a small effort can contribute to improving someone else’s life. We contribute to solving global issues when we orient our Service as Action toward our community. The local problems we orient our service to are just the tip of the iceberg of the global issues the United Nations is trying to solve. Indeed, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are the United Nations blueprint for achieving a better and more sustainable future for all. They address the global challenges we face, including poverty, inequality, climate change, environmental degradation, peace, and justice. No matter how small our contribution to these issues can be, our service adds to a world movement trying to make a difference.
As it can be seen, service learning is, on the one hand, a powerful learning methodology. On the other hand, it is a philosophy that reconciles the cognitive and ethical dimensions of the person; furthermore, it is a pedagogy that reconciles educational quality and social inclusion through a community development strategy by fostering the social capital of the communities where it takes place. Thus, through service learning, we combine social commitment with the learning of knowledge, skills, attitudes, and values. It is learning to be competent while being helpful to others.
At the Western International School of Shanghai, we believe that to educate future leaders, we must make sure we raise individuals that are capable of empathizing with others—educating individuals that are compassionate human beings that are not only aware of the main issues that need an urgent solution but also are willing to take action to initiate a change that brings positive outcomes for society as a whole.
Service learning happens throughout the entire school, from Early Years to Secondary School, and becomes more focused and meaningful each year. For service to be meaningful and successful, it is essential that students connect it to their passions. This way, we can infuse our own footprint into the process and take ownership of it.
A Service activity must be:
· Self-initiated: students must investigate a need and provide service to address it. It is not enough to give their time. If they are working with an already established partnership of the school, they have to consider what new ideas they could introduce.
· Meaningful: contribute to specific human or environmental needs in the school or broader community.
· Voluntary: students cannot receive money, or any other form of payment for their service, to develop one or more Service as Action learning outcomes.
More importantly, service must be embedded and intertwined with the curriculum so students can make the most out of it. When service roots in different classes’ units, students can make solid connections between their learning outside and inside the classroom. For instance, learning about poverty, in theory, is important, but witnessing and doing service in communities that are experiencing it gives us a much deeper understanding of the importance of taking action to be agents of change.
Through our Service, we learn about our community, our world, and about ourselves
Contributed by Claudia Romeo, Service as Action Coordinator at the Western International School of Shanghai.
How Can You Get Involved?
Service as action is essential because it helps us to understand the needs of others and how we can help to make a difference in their lives. When we take action to help others, we show them that we care and are willing to work to make a positive impact.
Additionally, service as action can be a great way to build community and connect with others working to make a difference. By taking action and working together, we can achieve more than we could ever do on our own.
There are many ways to get involved in service as action. One way is to volunteer with an organization that is working to address a social issue that you care about. Another way is to start your own service project and invite others to join you. Whatever way you choose to get involved, the important thing is that you take action and do something to help make a difference.
If you’re not sure where to start, here are some ideas:
1. Volunteer with a local organization that is working to address a social issue that you care about.
2. Start your own service project and invite others to join you.
3. Donate your time or resources to a local organization working to make a difference.
4. Share your talents and skills with others by volunteering to teach a class or lead a workshop.
5. Raise awareness about a social issue you care about by writing an article, giving a presentation, or organizing an event.
Service as action is an important way to make a difference in the world. By taking action and working together, we can create a better future for all.
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