Strengthening Bonds Through Service

Strengthening Bonds Through Service

by Kyle Quint, Visual Arts and Design Teacher & Service Learning Coach 

The YIS Service Learning program began this year with a powerful theme: strengthening the quality of our relationships, both from within our school and local community to the broader global context. Our aim was to foster connections that transcend borders and backgrounds. As we reflect on the past weeks, we are inspired by the spirit of service that has permeated every corner of our school.

This academic year dedicated time in the school schedule was allocated to Service Learning in both Middle and High school, ensuring that every secondary YIS student is now part of a service team. These teams meet weekly to engage in learning, planning, action, and reflection, embodying the Hawaiian proverb, "The work is the bond and the teacher."

 Kindergarten students visit Sweatpea Senior Home with HS students to share their Soran dance with the residents

With over 30 different service initiatives ongoing across the whole school YIS students and staff supervisors have been doing an excellent job of using this time to strengthen relationships through service. Let me share some heartwarming examples of how our students and staff have embraced this ethos in our own neighborhood:

Help Us Grow: Our students collaborated with the Honmoku Kodomo Shokudo (a subsidized children's cafeteria) to prepare 70 lunches for children from food-insecure families. This partnership blossomed from the initiative of our 10th graders, who read an article in the paper about a community member named Ando san and her service in Honmoku. Our students reached out to offer her help and she has since come to YIS multiple times and has begun helping our 2nd graders learn more about food security demonstrating the power of reaching out and offering support.

Building Bridges: Our 8th graders welcomed friends from the Hijirizaka special needs school, deepening friendships through shared activities and learning experiences. Through regular visits and a focus on neurodiversity, these connections have flourished.

Inter-generational Bonds: The Senior Wellbeing Assistance Team took Kindergarten students to Sweetpea Senior Home, where they shared their traditional Soran dance. The high school students learned how to do the Soran dance in PE and decided to share it with the Kindergarten students who they have been collaborating with this year. The Kindergarteners performed the dance with the help of their high school mentors for the senior home.  These visits have become cherished opportunities for both high school and elementary students to connect with and learn from their older neighbors.

Spreading Joy: 6th graders brought laughter and music to the Care Plaza community center, accompanied by the ES garden club, which set up a fresh herb stand. Their performance and initiative were met with enthusiasm, paving the way for future collaborations.

National Networking: The YIS Roots & Shoots service learning team hosted the official Japanese Jane Goodall 90th birthday celebration. Our team invited other schools who have Roots & Shoots teams or are interested in creating teams. This event is the beginning of creating a national network to support youth led environmental actions.

Our MS students deepen friendships with visiting students from Hijirizaka special needs school

These initiatives represent just a fraction of the impactful work our students are undertaking. From local endeavors in Honmoku to global connections in Palestine, Ukraine, Myanmar, and Cambodia, YIS students are making a difference and forging lasting bonds. It is truly humbling to see and hear all of the amazing work YIS students are doing through service.

If you're eager to learn more about our service initiatives and the incredible stories behind them, I invite you to follow the YIS Student Service Committee on Instagram.

Together, let us continue to strengthen bonds, foster empathy, and make a positive impact in our communities and beyond.