Clubs come in all shapes and sizes in order to fit the unique needs of students. They allow young people to expand, nurture, and develop leadership skills or other talents that might be neglected in their normal curriculum. Whether it be athletic, academic, or creative, these clubs offer students the perfect opportunities to connect with others who have the same interests and do so in an atmosphere that is very focused and passion driven.
Let’s face it, not everything you might be interested in learning or doing is available at every school. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t pursue it, and maybe even help to develop a community for others who are also interested in these topics. With this in mind, here are some examples of students from the International School of Beijing (ISB) that took the initiative to create the clubs they wanted along with some advice about the process of building and maintaining their respective organizations.
Interact is a service club that has both local and international projects. We visit nursing homes and raise money for various foundations, such as End Polio, and aim to promote leadership and collaboration amongst students.
Give us a brief introduction about Interact. What are its current projects and mission?
Interact’s mission statement is “service above self” and is an important reminder for all its members to try to make a positive impact with those around them. A charity organization branched from Rotary, there are Interact clubs in over 150 countries around the world. Creating young leaders, Interact is giving students an opportunity to make a difference and challenging themselves. The Interact club at ISB is volunteering locally with a nursing home here in Beijing to provide fun activities and longtime friendships with the elderly. We also organize fundraisers such as bake sales to raise money for international causes like the End Polio foundation.
How long have you been an active member, and why did you join in the first place?
I’ve been a member since Interact’s founding at ISB, which was in my sophomore year. Once school starts in August, it would be my third year as a member of this club. I joined because I thought that it would be a rewarding experience to be a part of a club from its beginning, and help establish it into the school community. Furthermore, as a charity club, I would have the opportunity to help others and make a difference in the community.
So Interact is a subsidiary of a large international organization. Do you find that you get enough freedom to pursue the projects you think are most suitable?
The help that we get from others in this community is absolutely incredible. I find being a part of a larger organization is beneficial rather than limiting because we can ask for help and support when we need it. As long as we make a positive impact, we have freedom to pursue our own ideas and projects.
How do you personally feel that the club’s current projects fulfill your mission?
In Interact, we have a local service mission as well as an international one. For our local service, volunteering at the nursing home gives us an opportunity to learn more about an older generation and the experiences they had in China before we were born. By providing various activities such as flower arranging or musical performances we hope to make them smile and lighten their day. Internationally, by raising money for those in need we can give them the help they potentially couldn’t have had otherwise.
If you had to single it down to one particular thing, what do you feel has been the club’s greatest achievement in the time since you joined?
We’ve done quite a few things since this club has been founded, but by far our most successful fundraiser was when we sold bubble tea to the students during lunch. We completely sold out in under 10 minutes, and the sale was a very large success for us and the students who bought the drink. We donated all proceeds to End Polio and continued to have bubble tea sales throughout the year.
When you step away from the club, what are your hopes for the future of Interact?
Since this will be my last year in high school, we’re planning on finding committed members that can be a part of the general club and members of the executive team. After I graduate, I hope that these students can continue thinking of new ways to fundraise, spread a positive influence to their peers, and become leaders in the school community.
How should someone go about getting involved in Interact- who should they contact?
If you’re a student and there’s an Interact club in your high school, go ahead and join! The students in charge can help establish you as a part of their community. If there’s no Interact in your school and you want to establish one, you can visit the Rotary website to find all the information you need.
A complete version of this article appeared on p44-48 of the beijingkids September 2018 Teen Takeover issue.