Together with 17 students from the HOPE Cambodia Service Club and two colleagues, I returned to school last week inspired by our 9-day trip to Cambodia, where we helped to construct a new junior high school classroom building.
Service is an integral part of the learning experience at YIS. It involves our community as leaders, learners, guardians and citizens. Through service we develop empathy, gain knowledge of real needs, enter into mutually beneficial relationships and take action.
Service is a core part of who we are. It exemplifies what we believe about the way we should treat each other. It also sustains the spirit of support and care that YIS is known for. Service allows our school to contribute to and make a positive impact on local, national and international communities. It is action-focused and an integrated part of the learning program. Service brings opportunities to make connections between the curriculum and communities beyond the classroom.
Why do we emphasize service at YIS?
The primary purpose of service at YIS is to enrich the learning of our students while helping others. We consider service to be an integral part of holistic learning. It provides hands-on, real-world learning that fosters caring members of society while addressing the needs of others. Service breaks down barriers, including differences in age, gender, ethnicity, academic or physical ability, and is something everyone can be involved in. Service allows the giver and receiver to benefit equally, even though that benefit may be of a completely different nature.
Chiku Centre Support Group
Embedded in the grade one curriculum is a Unit of Inquiry, "People create systems to connect communities." It has been designed to help young children build their capacity for leadership and service. In collaboration with members of the Chiku Centre group the grade one's build an understanding of homelessness and take age appropriate action. This has included learning what people really need and raising their own money through their actions, such as making a cardboard arcade. The children then funded and made onigiri with the Chiku Centre Group.
YIS Kindergarten - Takarajima Kindergarten Buddies
In 2011 YIS and Takarajima began a buddy partnership where they could be both learners and teachers to each other, sharing their respective kindergarten spaces and learning from each other through play and shared activities. The children develop their stewardship potential with the experience of sharing spaces, trying new things, helping others feel comfortable, trying new ways of communication, creating an environment that others will enjoy, playing in a space that is unfamiliar yet supported, and taking care of others' spaces and the natural environment.
International Center for Japanese Culture: Community Outreach Project
The International Center for Japanese Culture's Community Outreach Project is committed to sharing the beauty of Japanese music with a wider audience. Japanese music students at Yokohama International School perform in concerts and present workshops at senior centers, special needs schools for the blind and deaf, local Japanese schools and area community centers.
The main goals of ICJC’s Community Outreach Project are threefold:
・To provide life-enhancing access to new social opportunities for children, youth and adults
・To provide cross-cultural educational and musical experiences for both YIS students and collaborating community institutions
・To enrich the local community with programs that develop cultural identity and enhance cultural heritage.
Lady of Lourdes Baby Home
16 years ago, we established a connection with The Lady of Lourdes Baby Home in Yamate. The Home is for children ages 2-18 years of age, with 20 children between the ages of 3 and 6. These children all have at least one parent, but for various reasons cannot live with their parents and for most, rarely receive visits from them. Every year the ELC invites the younger children not yet attending school to our center and to play with us. In December, we organize a Craft Day with our parents to make gifts for our Baby Home friends.
5W Kiva Initiative
For the past 3 years, at the start of the school year, 5W students have been invited to learn about and connect with KIVA by making a loan to someone in the world who needs it. As KIVA states on their website: "We are a non-profit organization with a mission to connect people through lending to alleviate poverty. Leveraging the internet and a worldwide network of microfinance institutions, Kiva lets individuals lend as little as $25 to help create opportunity around the world." More than 90% of 5W students each year have chosen to take part each year. Together in 5W we have learn about how KIVA works and the students have work hard outside of school to raise enough money to make a US$25 loan. Then each student chooses the person or group to make their loan to. To date, ALL 5W students have been repaid! Thank you everyone.
Sanagitachi Service Club
Sanagitachi works on bettering the lives of people in need and without stable housing within the Kannai area of Yokohama. Students and teachers regularly collaborate with the Sanagitachi Center to support homeless individuals around the Yokohama Stadium and Kannai station areas by distributing necessities such as soup, razors, toothbrushes, socks and blankets.
Partners: Sanagitachi Center
A student-led service group that aims to understand and improve the aquatic environment in Japan. We will serve our community by working with the organization Project Baseline to check and record the ocean conditions and share them with local governments and educational institutions. We will also develop a further knowledge and understanding of scuba diving to help us support this purpose.
Partner: Project Baseline
Partner: Kotobuki Chiku Center
The Combating Human Trafficking Group
The Combating Human Trafficking service group works alongside a non-profit organisation called Lighthouse to seek ways raise awareness about and combat the issue of human trafficking and the sexual exploitation of young people in Japan. Our group educates others by organising speaking events for YIS and the wider community and has contributed by translating Lighthouse materials into English to widen their audience.
Van der Poel Community Service
The Van der Poel Community Service group works to improve the welfare of children in two local orphanages through a partnership with the Yokohama International Women’s Club. Students participate in regular outings and visits to the childrens’ homes and they also organize and host the Orphanage Christmas party held annually at YIS in early December. This is a major event that brings together the YIS community and the orphanage communities.
Partners: Yokohama International Women's Club
High School Environment Club
The HS Environment Club aims to act locally and promote environmentalism by ‘greening’ the YIS campus with plants, vegetables and flowers. Additionally, students act as good neighbors by regularly sweeping and maintaining the grounds at the entrance to the Yokohama Foreign Cemetery. Special community events such as beach cleanups are also planned to provide opportunities for environmental stewardship.
Partners: Yokohama Foreign Cemetery
The YIS group exists to support the work of non-profit organization Refugees International Japan by fundraising for and raising awareness about the challenges of refugeeism around the world. Main fundraising at YIS is based on the sale of greeting cards donated by various artists every year.
Partners: Refugees International Japan
Chiku Service Club
The Chiku Service clubs aims to help support people who are less fortunate within the Yokohama area. Students regularly volunteer in the mornings and at lunch on Fridays to help prepare and serve lunches in the Kotobukicho area near Ishikawacho Station to those who are in need. Additionally, fundraising events are held to raise money and collaborations with various grades to prepare and deliver onigiri (rice balls) are hosted regularly.
Partners: Kotobuki Chiku Center
HOPE Service Club
The HOPE Service club partners with the HOPE International Development Agency to support the development of underserved rural communities and to raise awareness about the needs of those in poverty, particularly in Cambodia. YIS students volunteer for HOPE’s Tokyo-based events, fundraise for HOPE projects and advocate for HOPE’s work on sustainable development on issues such as sanitation, education, women’s empowerment and microfinance. Some students in the group participate in direct service as part of an annual trip to a local village in Pursat Province, Cambodia to construct a 3-classroom school structure and build relationships with the local Cambodian community.
Partners: HOPE International Development Agency
LGBTQ+ Student Group
The LGBTQ+ student group aims to promote an inclusive and supportive environment for students of diverse sexual orientations and gender identities at YIS. Advocacy focuses on building awareness about issues facing the queer community and eradicating the social oppression of LGBTQ community members.
Animal Relief Club
This student group focuses on advocacy and promoting animal welfare with a focus on homeless dogs in Japan. Direct service opportunities have included regular volunteer work at a Tokyo animal shelter, discussing animal-related issues with elementary, middle and high school students and promoting the adoption of homeless dogs among the YIS community.
The Sustainability Project is a student run service group dedicated to increasing sustainability awareness in the YIS community and beyond. Our objective is to educate students about the issue of waste and to promote the reduction of it. We involve the YIS community in activities such as clothing drives, up-cycling workshops and have future plans to do even more.
Other Student Groups with Service elements:
OUR SERVICE MODEL
Our model for service at YIS* is organized around specific roles and types of service, a cyclical process for engaging in service, and communities of interaction.
Students and others in the YIS community may play multiple roles and be involved in various types of service activities during their time at YIS.
To be meaningful and successful, service should be a deliberate and thoughtful process that incorporates research, preparation, action and reflection.
At YIS service interaction starts with our own school community and extends to local, national and international levels. The communities we serve are those presenting a real need, and as a school it is our responsibility to ensure that our service activities are part of a learning process. To help identify needs and ensure the effectiveness of our response, we cultivate strong links with NGO's and other trusted community partner organizations whose missions align with our own. This helps provide a wide range of opportunities for our community to engage in service action.
*In formulating our service model, we adapted the approach described in the ‘Service and Action’ section of the IB publication MYP: From Principles into Practice (2014).
YIS staff and their families spent the October Break building a home in Cambodia. Service Learning Coordinators Mario Saez and Sarah Urquhart speak from the fields of the village in this video, where, as you will see, rural life stops for no one.
Sato comments, "I thought of poverty as something very distant and far away from me as I only had some vague ideas. But as I started to do my internship, I was able to get a better idea of it and how even a water well or a school can help families to break the poverty cycle."
Saneyuki explains, "I had never heard about refugees before. I was surprised this was happening to people, so I decided to collect clothes because I thought I could help at least a little."