Just as it is important to utilize our minds and resources to think of solutions to first-world problems, it is equally as important to put them into action. But of course, all big things start small. These small actions, once again emphasizes change.
TAS encourages community service within school, such as the Read-A-Thon that donates money to an orphanage, the Lesotho Walkathon that raises money for a school in Lesotho, and the eighth-grade project in which you individually must do five hours of community service outside of school. At HKIS, there is an abundance of clubs and projects that encourage service as well.
Here are just a few of the projects I have done throughout my life as service work.
Elephant Encounter – 2018
At HKIS, we are offered a large plethora of options for our annual interim, which is an event in which each year, students are allowed to choose different trips to go on around the world, with the options ranging from Nepal all the way to Tanzania. I decided to choose a service trip to Chiang Mai, Thailand, in which I would spend eight days at the Elephant Nature Park.
This was an incredibly eye-opening experience for me. I never knew that elephant riding harmed the elephants because they seemed so strong and tall. I never knew the abuse that was inflicted on elephants in order to get them to perform in circuses. I never knew that elephants were stabbed with hooks and machetes in order to break their spirits. At the ENP, I saw how elephants should live. Happy, free, and with families. Not being blinded by the lights of circuses, or tripping over a landmine while being forced to work in illegal logging industries.
Throughout the week we took care of the elephants, preparing their food and feeding them, as well as interacting with them and other dogs and cats there.
Learn more about the Elephant Nature Park here.
In January, I signed up to be a part of a group of 16 students who would go on an overnight service trip to Sham Shui Po, one of the poorest districts in Hong Kong. Through visiting poor families, hearing their experiences and helping the poor, we got to experience what life in Sham Shui Po as someone under the poverty line truly is like.
With an HKIS teacher partnering with the organizations J Life and Hope Of the City, this trip was able to happen, and through it, I learned that service is more than just donating money, or giving materialistic goods. It’s about the relationships that you form through it, and the company that you’re able to give.
Caritas Community Center – 2017
As part of our UNICEF club’s service activities, my friends and I volunteered at the Caritas Community Center to teach and tutor underprivileged Hong Kong Kids English. All four of us came up with a lesson plan regarding holidays (and more specifically, Thanksgiving which had just passed) for intermediate kids. Showing up to the Caritas Community Center, they told us that their younger class had no one to teach them—so my friend and I decided to step up to the challenge to have an impromptu lesson for an hour.
We taught them fruits, clothes, weather, instruments—and they retained all of it.
It was a really gratifying experience to see how these kids soaked up the information like a sponge, and I began to see the appeal of becoming a teacher. It’s a great feeling to be able to teach kids what you already know and pass on the knowledge.
Want to volunteer at Caritas? Click here for more information.
Animals Taiwan Baking Fundraiser – 2017
As my friends and I racked our brains for ideas for our community service project in eighth grade, my mind immediately drifted back to the SPCA donation project I did back in 2014. Animals are very important to me, and I knew that helping them was something that I wanted to keep on doing.
Thus, we decided to put together a bake sale, since we all had a passion for baking. We would make hundreds of different cookies, cakes, cupcakes, brownies, cake pops, and Rice Krispies to sell at school in order to raise money for the local organization in Taipei, Animals Taiwan.
From one to six, my friends and I baked up a storm, packaging boxes and boxes of baked goods to sell. We gave up our lunch period the next day and started advertising our bake sale to students at the school.
At the end of the day, we sold everything. Not a crumb was left.
With the money that we had gained, we donated everything to Animals Taiwan, and like my last project in 2014, we were once again able to support several animals, protecting them from euthanization. It was amazing just how by giving up one lunch and a couple hours of free time, we were able to save two lives. This is definitely something I would do again.
Discover more on what this organization is and how to help out at this site.
HELA Bubble Tea Fundraising – 2016
November rolled around, and with it, my excitement grew: this month, I would finally be able to witness the IASAS MUN conference which would be hosted at TAS: the best of the elite. And luckily, I would be able to see everything that was happening in the General Assembly and Security Council committees, as a page.
After signing up eagerly to be a page, I got an email addressing an organization called HELA: the Hope for Education and Leadership in Afghanistan organization, which is an organization that aims to raise money for kids in Afghanistan to learn about Model UN, and be able to send them to conferences all across the world. The teachers decided that it would be a great idea to sell bubble tea (which as you probably know is a great hit in Taiwan) and raffle tickets at the IASAS conference, to raise money for this organization. Naturally, I signed up to help out.
Thus, I spent my Saturday morning before the conference helping other volunteers roll in carts and carts of bubble tea from the Comebuy near school into the cafeteria, and for two hours in the morning and during lunch, I helped sell bubble tea and promoted the raffle tickets to thirsty delegates willing to try their luck for a good cause.
Overall, this was a tiring experience, but it was definitely fulfilling to be able to work towards this cause.
Want to know more about HELA? See this site to find out.
Yilan Cultural Exchange Trip – 2016
As April came around the corner, so did the opportunity to go on a cultural exchange trip to Yilan; to give and receive. It was an opportunity for change for both groups. Of course, I accepted. On this trip, I would be singing an English and Chinese song for the children, pose as an MC, teach kids how to make balloon animals, and read them an English book, The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle: a particular child favorite of mine.
After the hour-long bus ride, we were all eager to jump out and stretch our legs. The aboriginal school was fairly large, and we could see students milling in and out of the classrooms and chattering busily on the stairwell. A group of kids stood out, clad in a green shirt with “Taipei American School” stamped out on the front, and blue and yellow pants; different from many of the other children who wore traditional aboriginal clothing and headdresses. They stopped chattering as they saw us, and eagerly bounded over, ready to be our guides.
Throughout the week, as we shared with them our western culture, they taught us their culture from the east. We learned how to make paper the traditional way, and they taught us how to weave and make bracelets, like the ones they wore every day on their wrists. Additionally, they shared with us some dances, music, and archery, one of their favorite past-times.
Overall, the trip to this Yilan aboriginal school was a very fulfilling experience, and getting to spend time with these children was a bonus. If the opportunity arises, I would definitely like to do this again.
Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Donation Project (SPCA) – 2014
When I was a child in Shanghai, my father and I found a stray cat on the streets. We brought him into our home, and I tried to feed him milk, but he refused to drink. Being naive and young at the time, I didn’t understand. Now, I understand that this cat was likely cast out of his home and forced to search for scraps on the street, trusting nobody.
That’s why in fifth grade, my Girl Scouts project was to help create a donation project for the SPCA at my school in Hong Kong. I knew it was going to be hard, and everyone doubted my ambitiousness and headstrong attitude. However, once I put my mind to something, there is very little chance of me backing out.
After a phone call with the volunteers at the SPCA, I found out that what they needed most was used blankets and towels for the animals at the shelter, and money. Thus, I talked with the principal and after receiving clearance, I put together a presentation and presented it to the entire grade. Seeing as I hadn’t yet started MUN at the time, it was a daunting task but I got through it and got a few friends to help set up donation boxes around the school.
Luckily, the project was a smashing success. I managed to collect almost five boxes of blankets along with almost 2,000 HKD – enough to support two animals at the shelter from being euthanized. I managed to change their fates, and I was extremely proud that I was able to make such a large impact on the shelter, and this inspired me to do more service work in the future.
Want to know what you can do? See this site to find out how you can make a difference for these animals.
Baobei Foundation Mini-Fundraiser – 2013
The first act of change that I ever made was when my friend and I decided to make a small fundraiser to support a group called the Baobei Foundation.
The Baobei Foundation is a group in Shanghai that reaches out to orphanages and the Shanghai Children’s Medical Center. Baobei raises money for surgeries needed on the orphans and ensures that the children are put in safe hands after the procedures.
After my friend and I visited the orphanage in which the children stayed in after procedures as part of our Girl Scouts trip, we decided that we wanted to do more, so that more children would be able to get the surgeries and treatment that they needed.
We made bracelets and sold them to students and other people a little ways off the CISS campus, and earned a total of almost 3,000 RMB – all of which was donated to the Baobei Foundation. Though it was not enough to support a child for neurological or gastrointestinal surgery, like how every brick and slab of mortar counts when you are building a bridge, every small donation can make a difference.
Want to help out? See this site to find out what you can do to help the Baobei Foundation.