There is a famous African proverb that says it takes a whole village to raise a child, pointing out that the whole community has a role to play in developing healthy successful adults.
And while the above is undoubtedly true, there is also a strong argument that children, and their schools, have a big role to play in the development of their own local communities and promoting community spirit.
Programmes such as Service & Action for middle school aged students, and Creativity, Activity & Service for high-schoolers, both of which are an integral part of the International Baccalaureate (IB) curriculum allow students to come up with their own ideas and initiatives to serve their community, but it is whole school community events that really show a school’s commitment goes beyond the school gates to the families who live and work in the same area.
“A lot of schools, particularly international schools, hold plenty of events targeting their own parents, students and staff” explains Pauline Wong, Events and PTA Coordinator at Beijng World Youth Academy (BWYA). “This is great as they foster school spirit and raise lots of money for worthwhile charities in China and abroad. But for people living nearby, they can often feel like outsiders looking in on something that is happening in their own neighborhoods.
“Our motto at BWYA is ‘locally grounded, globally aware’ and both parts of that phrase carry equal weighting. So as a school, we are always looking for ways that we can engage with our local communities.”
One way that international schools look to do this is by hosting community events such as BWYA’s annual May Fair. May Fair brings together staff, students, parents and local businesses and residents, to host stalls selling everything from food and drink, to toys and jewelry, with plenty of games and performances to keep all ages entertained. Every year the school adopts charitable organizations to which all profits are donated. As this year marks BWYA’s 15th Anniversary, the School chose a ‘Birthday Bash’ theme and raised RMB 116,000 for Chunhui Children, an organization that supports disadvantaged children in China, and The Beijing Ruizhi Quanna Centre For Special Education Needs.
“Good schools should always be the hub of their community, which students growing and developing in tandem,” concludes Pauline Wong. “This year alone our school choir and orchestra has performed at local hospitals and shopping malls, we’ve had willing volunteers help out at community events, supported fundraising activities and worked hard to be engaged members of our community. The students not only enjoy it, but it also helps them to understand what a community really is and how we are all responsible for contributing. This mentality stays with them as they grow into adulthood. They may travel far and wide and can end up studying and working anywhere in the world, but they will not lose their sense of community and being an active member of their own.”
This post is provided by BWYA.