SIS Middle School Students Service Learning Project to Weining
Post Under: Victor Serio
In late March 2012 when other students from Shekou International School were flying to places south to enjoy spring break, six socially conscious SIS seventh graders were taking a train northwest to Guizhou Province. Their task: to hand deliver a check for a Miao family from the SIS Ecoclub, enough for one new biofuel unit for this Guizhou family. This two day whirlwind trip to Guizhou chaperoned by Chinese teachers, Doris King and Bonnie Lui, added the 31st biofuel unit donated from the SIS community to the village of Caiji.
It was the sixth trip for King and the second for Lui in a Shenzhen-Weining partnership that has spanned eight years and has resulted in more than 1,000,000 yuan in donations. In addition to the 31 biofuel units, this promising partnership has already contributed water storage units, school buildings and materials, senior housing additions and furniture. Money raised in the past through school activities and by the SIS Parent Student Association (PSA) has also funded school tuition for students.
Throughout each school year students at Shekou International School are engaged in various activities that encourage them to understand their role as global citizens. This small group of 7th grade students took these lessons to heart and hit the road. After raising money to help fund a new biofuel unit in the Guizhou, the students decided they wanted to travel to the community themselves both to hand deliver the money and as well as to document the impact these units have had on the daily lives of villagers.
While their classmates prepared to relax in warmer climes, these intrepid students packed for a junket to chilly Weining. A flight, overnight train trip, and bus ride later, the students boarded a jeep for the final drive to the remote village of HeiShiTou. Once there, students were greeted by village leaders and had an opportunity to interview farmers from the village about the impact biofuel units have had on their daily lives. These units turn organic farm waste into methane gas that can be used for lighting and cooking. The digested waste can be used as fertilizer in the field, increasing plant yields. Money no longer spent on fuel for cooking and lighting can be used for other needs, allowing residents to raise their standard of living. This interaction allowed students to connect what they are learning in science and humanities classes with real world sustainable development projects.
The relationship between SIS and Weining County continues to grow under the direction of SIS Mandarin teacher Doris King. Although past efforts have focused on raising money for the communities of WeiNing, this student-initiated trip was the first of its kind. It will serve as a model of how to develop this bi-city partnership into powerful educational service learning available to all students at the Shekou International School.