Postcards around the world: Acts of Kindness by SCS

Posted: 26 August 2020

IDEALS

Discoveries

Age range: 12 – 17

Curriculum area: Service learning

Lead school: St. Clement’s School, Canada

Schools involved:

St Cyprian’s School (South Africa), Gut Warnberg Schule (Germany), Craighouse School (Chile), Scindia Kanya Vidyalaya (India), San Silvestre School (Peru), The Hyderabad Public School (India), Schule Birklehof (Germany), Colegio de Inglaterra – The English School Bogotá (Colombia), Vidya Devi Jindal School (India), Windermere School (UK), The Punjab Public School (India), Appleby College (Canada), Sunshine Montessori (Canada), Belgrano Day School (Argentina) and The Doon School (India)

Overview

Working with our schools’ RS student committee, plus a small group of our students who were working on an enrichment program around the RS Spirit of Environmentalism Challenge, we were looking for a way to tie everything together.

After joining the Zoom call with Round Square and other member schools call to discuss possible ways to implement collaborations between schools the idea of ‘Collaboration Postcards’ was devised where students at various Round Square schools around the world would take it in turns to host a weekly Zoom call on a topic of their choice, and invite the wider network to participate. The idea being, to offer time-out opportunities for students to connect with their peers internationally and share ideas and experiences around the world.

St. Clement’s excitedly signed up and volunteered to host a zoom ‘Postcard’ around acts of kindness. It made for a great culminating task for the group and a great way for the committee to end out the year with purpose.

Planning

Our Student Committee excitedly got to work planning a concept for their Zoom Postcard and discussed various themes.  They initially landed on the idea to host a zoom session with an environmental slant. However, after various conversations and exchange of ideas the students team felt this was a bit too ‘heavy’ and wanted to look at something that was more fitting for the times we are in.

We had run an ‘Acts of Kindness’ activity in a previous year at the school and so agreed that this would be the perfect topic for discussion as it would not only allow students the opportunity to share their past experiences but also bring about a conversation that would boost positivity and compassion. The motto they chose for their activity was the Dalai Lama quote: “Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.”

The team then set to designing the artwork for their Postcard to be shared in the RS Weekly to officially invite schools to attend. We utilised pastel colours and a monochrome photo of two hands clasped together to create a calm and gentle aesthetic.

Now set on a theme, the students then outlined the structure and the potential questions to be asked on the call and how to encourage participation from delegates. They decided to ask participating students to submit a personal example of giving or receiving an act of kindness and share an icon or image(s) that represent acts of kindness prior to the call. Finally, our students reached out to potential keynote speakers who were willing and able to attend. Since both had connections to St. Clement’s, it was clear to everyone that this activity very much a community effort.

Students decided to set clear perimeters for their call, setting the age range of participants to 14-18 with a capacity of 15 schools joining the call, each with a delegation of up to three students and one accompanying adult each. To ensure fairness, it was decided that places on the call would be awarded on a ‘first-come-first-served’ basis.

Details

Our Zoom Postcard call took place on Wednesday 27th May at 12:00 pm EST, and we were delighted to have over 50 delegates on our call from schools including St Cyprian’s School (South Africa), Gut Warnberg Schule (Germany), Craighouse School (Chile), Scindia Kanya Vidyalaya (India), San Silvestre School (Peru), The Hyderabad Public School (India), Schule Birklehof (Germany), Colegio de Inglaterra – The English School Bogotá (Colombia), Vidya Devi Jindal School (India), Windermere School (UK), The Punjab Public School (India), Appleby College (Canada), Sunshine Montessori (Canada), Belgrano Day School (Argentina) and The Doon School (India).

The call kicked off with a few words from each of our keynote speakers: starting with a testimony from a former St. Clement’s student who is chair of a charity (Adair Roberts from Feed the Frontline Toronto) providing frontline workers with meals.

Her presentation was followed by our second keynote, a frontline paramedic (Tara Leppan) who talked about the role of first responders in Toronto, the difficulties faced and the acts of kindness they have received from individuals and organisations. These inspiring testimonies were a great introduction to the barazza group discussion that followed.

After the keynote speakers participants were divided into groups for a ten minute discussion around the topics from the speakers, a student leader from St. Clement’s chaired each group. This allowed for a more in-depth and personal discussion.

After the group work we reconvened and shared via slides some of the acts of kindness submitted by participants. The student who submitted their piece talked through their experience and personal feelings as to what happened and why.

The call lasted an hour in total but it was evident that it could have gone on a lot longer as there was such enthusiasm for students to talk to each other.

The chair of the student Round Committee (Katherine Lau) ably lead the whole session, she laid out the structure at the beginning and coordinated transitions seamlessly.

Challenges

Originally the team was going to discuss something around the environment but the speaker that had agreed to be on the call fell through after he had a nasty accident on his bike. This turned out to be the point when they felt they needed a different theme and so the challenge turned into an opportunity.

It was very easy to plan as students already had time slots in the schedule to meet and that was essential to be able to organise properly. No doubt that the pandemic brought about both challenges and opportunities: in St. Clement’s case the fact that students were working from home an on a fixed schedule provided for more structured opportunities to meet and work together online.

Impact

After the experience of having led an international meeting attended by 15 schools from all over the world our students felt a sense of purpose and connection. They felt empowered to send out a positive message and uplift people. All in the St. Clement’s School community was proud of the students and their willingness to contribute and a piece was done in their community news bulletin.

This collaboration offered our students the opportunity to step up as leaders and really drive a project that would connect with their peers on a global scale. It helped them to develop good communication and teamwork skills.

We hope that by choosing the topic of ‘Acts of Kindness’ this has helped to afford the other students in the collaboration the opportunity to think more about what service learning can look like and helped them to be more compassionate in their day-to-day lives.

Long term

After this experience connecting with the wider Round Square community, the twelve students involved with the zoom call felt that they would like to know more about RS beyond the idea of just going on trips and how to open the wider school community. It was a wonderful opportunity for our students to ‘be’ Round Square, rather than just ‘do’ Round Square.  The initiative was an eye opener to the many opportunities that the Round Square network bring to our school, and I are am looking forward to host something again in the future.  What was particularly worthy for both the students and teachers was the fact that the activity was completely student led and carried out.

Advice

Author: Louise Melville, RS Rep, St. Clement’s School 

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