We reached out to schools in Beijing to ask who was making an impact on their school communities. Our terms were loose, as we were curious about individuals who made a difference in leadership, community, and charity. We don’t feel like someone necessarily has to contribute to charity to be a community star, as sometimes a great, reliable friend in a school community can make just as much of an impact. Each of these stories is special, and we’re so proud to have had the chance to talk with these students and teachers.
Sharee Hebert, Yew Chung International School of Beijing
You may have heard the phrase “a close-knit community,” but for Sharee Hebert, Secondary Math Teacher at Yew Chung International School of Beijing (YCIS Beijing), it’s the ancient and noble art of knitting itself that brings people together, in the school and the wider community.
Aside from teaching, Hebert also runs a lunchtime knitting group. “I used to sit at lunchtime and knit in my classroom,” she told us. “My homeroom students would come in and say ‘What are you making?’ The girls were really interested – and some boys too! They asked me to offer it as a lunchtime activity. It was such a success we offered it again this year, and had to run a second day, we had so much interest.”
For Hebert, knitting was a way to find friends in a new city. “I started knitting in 2009. I find it relaxing, and it’s good to have something to occupy your hands. But it’s also a good way to get to know people. When I moved to Beijing I joined a knitting group that had just got started. Through that I met people from all round the world. At one meeting there were fourteen people, all from different countries! Knitting is a common bond that brings people together.”
The school group also helps to build community. “It works well as a lunchtime activity, because we can eat and knit together,” Hebert said. “A few girls have gotten more advanced and are able to help the other children. It’s a great way for older students to get to know younger students. For one boy, it became a bonding activity for him and his mom. He was struggling with his project, and his mom was able to help.
“We use a fleece type yarn to make scarves which we can sell for charity. It’s an easy yarn, and an easy project. Last year we donated over RMB 1,100 to Bethel, the charity of choice for the YCIS Christmas Bazaar.”
But the students themselves benefit from knitting, Hebert said. “They’re not only learning a new skill, they get the satisfaction of creating something. There’s a sense of pride when you put on a scarf or hat you’ve made yourself.
“Last year a couple of hats were sold that the students made, and I see a boy around the school wearing one of those hats. Every time the girl who made it sees him wearing it she feels a sense of accomplishment.”
To find out more about the knitting group visit their website, www.beijingguild.com.
Photos courtesy of YCIS Beijing
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