For parents with children following the International Baccalaureate (IB) curriculum, the Service and Action (SA) programme for middle school students, and the Creativity, Activity and Service (CAS) requirements for high school students, can sometimes seem to be a distraction from the more academic subjects. But putting equal effort into these projects can be hugely rewarding for more than just the grades.
On Saturday, February 25, a team of Beijing World Youth Academy (BWYA) students, collaborating with friends at other international schools in Beijing, produced their very own fashion show. Recycled Fashion, named as such as all garments where created from recycled materials, was the culmination of months of hard work as part of BWYA’s CAS programme. As well as organizing an event and designing all the clothes which went down the catwalk, over 250 people attended the event, raising more than RMB 18,000 to help a village in China’s Qinghai Province, Sanjiangyuan Region, maintain a sustainable way of life via the Global Environment Institute China.
“The day of the show was both exciting and terrifying in equal parts,” says Charlotte Tian, a grade 11 student at BWYA who was Assistant Director of the event. “We had been planning the event for months, we knew the ticket sales had been good, and the clothes looked great, but there are always a few nerves for things like this.”
“The whole team really enjoyed rising to the challenge of putting an event like this together,” adds Kristina Zhang, also a Co-Director. “It’s amazing how many things you have to plan for, and although it was hard work, it was really satisfying to see everyone who came enjoying the show so much and we were able to raise a good amount of money for charity. It was really interesting to see how the money raised would help the charity. We really appreciate now how hard it can be to earn money and how its value means different things to different people.”
Tian and Zhang’s experience is fairly common for students who embrace the CAS or SA programmes just as they would any other part of their studies.
“We had a lot of support from the school and the local community, “ explains Sydney Liang, who also helped to organize the show. “We had to learn how to contact and deal with local businesses. We had to work on project management and communications skills, manage finances and ticket sales, and work with school administrators. “
“We picked up so many new skills that will help us when we go to university,” concludes Co-Director Dari Temutsilekhu. “Time management was really important, as well as the social skills we needed to work with people outside of our school. We really enjoyed working together and I think the best part of the project has been knowing that we are working towards making a difference in someone’s life. This really motivated the team in creating the show, we tried our best to bring this show together. I learned so much throughout this project, and experienced so much, I think this experience will really help me in the future.”
CAS is one of the three essential elements that all IB Diploma students have to complete. Based on a set of learning outcomes, students have to come up with their own initiatives that offer something to their local community, as well as demonstrating their own creativity, perseverance and problem solving, collaboration and decision making skills.
Already this year, BWYA students have helped build desktop computers for migrant school children, renovated the facilities of a migrant school, developed public speaking and presentation training courses for fellow students, and helped countless charities in Beijing and beyond. Next up for the school is a charity rock concert taking place in April.
“CAS enables students to enhance their personal and interpersonal development by learning through experience,” says David Kelly, CAS Co-coordinator at BWYA. “The students have the chance to develop skills that they wouldn’t necessarily have in the classroom with projects that can be extremely self-rewarding and enjoyable. It can act as a nice break from the pressure and stress of studying. Plus, a lot of the skills they learn will benefit them in the future as adults, can help with their university applications, as well as benefiting those in our community that the project has been developed to help. It’s positive for everybody!”
You can find out more about BWYA’s CAS and SA programmes at www.ibwya.net and keep an eye on their news and blogs for stories about individual projects.
This post is sponsored by BWYA.
Photos by BWYA