During April, Middle School students from Kyoto International School embarked on their second work-service camp to China. Wanting to move away from a more traditional service trip where they ‘helicopter’ into a village on a pre-determined project without consulting about local needs, students will continue to track developments over time to determine if a project was truly effective or sustainable.
Collaborating with the local social worker in the village, students connected with a nature trail group attempting to promote for city dwellers a greater appreciation for a environmentally sustainable rural lifestyle. Their need was for a new nature trail.
KIS students were provided photographs of the area where they then developed skills from their math and science classes to design a step-path and to test possible bamboo construction. On the mountain, students applied the concepts that they learned in class in order to construct a high staircase.
An important goal for our students to cultivate in this project was to develop an attitude of ‘support’ rather than ‘to help’. To help may become too infused with condescension, however unintentional, whereas to support local groups fosters more of a sense of teamwork.
To maintain support, next year, students will take the lead in liaising with local villagers to determine necessary projects. Further, the students will also take the lead in organizing the trip in addition to engaging in the research and logistics necessary to complete their projects.
Middle School students can construct appropriate solutions with the right guidance, trust…and support.