Tabitha is a non-profit organization based in Cambodia, and I decided to apply for it as my GC activity. I initially heard of Tabitha in our school’s service fair earlier in the year and felt that the mission & aim of the organization aligned with the kinds of goals I wanted to support and contribute to. So far, we have done our fundamental research into the organization as a whole, decided on some objectives we wanted to achieve throughout this year, and began planning for our Project Week to Cambodia.
Other than thinking and planning for Project Week, we all contributed to establishing our service goal settings, which would be a structure to follow throughout the year and work as a guide for our group (see link here). This included defining our goals, what action to take depending on our objectives, and finding success indicators. I found that ‘taking action’ was not limited to our physical work in Cambodia, it also included indirect action and advocacy. Many of these were linked to the Tabitha team in the Dover Campus, who had more experience with the organization than our campus. Personally, I had worked with a service group before in my previous school, but remember it to be largely based on physical interaction working with the people locally. When finding out that the chance to actually see and work in Cambodia was at the end of this academic year, I remember wondering what our group was going to do for the rest of the time in Singapore. However, having experienced the tasks we do weekly for more than a month, I have realized that there is so much preparation to be done before heading to Cambodia in May, ranging from organizing the trip there, to investigating more effective ways we could help in our time there. Our group still needs to create a solid plan and distribute roles to everyone so that all of us can contribute to the planning of Project Week, but I feel that we have already accomplished so much in the time that we have had so far.
Lastly, I feel that what I have been able to learn from this past month most aligns with LO1: Awareness. Although I did have the previous experience of working with an external service group, I had never even heard of Tabitha before being introduced to this GC, so there was still a lot that I had to learn along the way. Overall, I feel that all the members of our Tabitha group have been very involved and committed to our tasks each week, and I feel that I was also able to further understand the premise of our long-term and short-term goals. However, I would like to improve by becoming further involved and committed to the planning of our Project Week. Project Week was a very new concept for me, as I had never had to facilitate a service plan outside of the set curriculum before. Now that I have a better understanding of what it is, and what students should achieve within that time, I would like to further be involved in the efforts of our group to make our trip to Cambodia the most successful it can be.
I originally decided to join IFP after hearing that so many people were participating and saw that it would be a good opportunity to get to know more people in our grade. After having been involved for almost two months, I found that I did indeed meet more people from our school, but also from the Dover campus (for Peace Day). Not only that, I find that I enjoy discussing the various topics raised in class, and feel that it is a great chance for me to learn more about, and be more vocal about arguments that would not normally be talked about in casual conversation.
During the first few weeks of starting IFP, we focused on getting to know each other and exploring our different opinions on the concept of peace-making and how to resolve conflicts. I realized that there was a real mixture of responses to conflict management and what behaviors were deemed to be acceptable. I found that people usually had a different perspective due to their personal experience or because of the ‘category’ they identified as that led them to see a different side to the same problem. While the majority of us approached all the statements with an open mind, I felt that we all had different reactions because we were brought up in a culturally different family, because our gender was different, or even because of our friends and their responses that triggered a similar reaction in ourselves. More recently, we began to discuss more on our personal beliefs and values, and how they shape who we are. It gave me a chance to reflect on myself in a variety of different approaches, that all led me to acknowledge something new about myself. For example, one of our activities was based on the topic of bias, and assumptions that people had made about us (images embedded below). We all had different, individualized experiences that changed us in some way. For me, one of the biggest assumptions made was that I was a big fan of K-pop due to my nationality as a South Korean. The number of times I had been asked if I knew a certain group or if I knew how do translate a piece of the lyrics was an experience that not a lot of people have, just like I can’t relate to many of their own experiences. I realized that it was our differences that enabled us to be such a diverse group that could bring new ideas to the table and contributes unique points of conversation.
I think my experience at IFP is closely linked to LO7: Ethics. Even though I did not have to personally make any ethical decisions in class, I felt that I learned various lessons that are connected with the concept of what is ‘right’ and ‘wrong’. Because many of the topics we discuss are very subjective, I found that much of what I thought was right might not be the same for someone else, and vice-versa. I based most of my decisions off of what I was taught from a young age, and feel that my family and school had a large influence on that aspect. Through these opinions, I did definitely encounter areas where a strongly disagreed with some else, but it never created serious conflict due to how comfortable everyone was in embracing their own thoughts as well as those of others. Even in these past few months, I have learned so much more about myself and those surrounding me, and I am very much looking forward to the following seasons of IFP.
Starting from the end of half term break, our group will be meeting the care center members for the first time on our UWC East campus. Since starting the service at the beginning of term 1, our group has been working hard to create an effective action plan that will guide us in the coming year (see attached google doc or click here)
We began by listing the fundamental reasons behind why this specific service is needed for the local community. This helped to motivate our group and create a collective goal to work towards. Before beginning the service, I had initially thought of this service as an opportunity to help engage those, who might not have the chance to do so independently, to a fun sport. However, after this initial activity, I realized that it wasn’t just about the physical aspect, but the connection between people. Not only are we trying to make them feel more welcome to our campus, but we are also trying to contribute to our local community and improve the general life quality of the center’s members. To be able to achieve this, we conducted a SMART analysis in-class to make sure we understood the direction of action. The most important goal we came up with through the activity was: to build trusting relationships and to increase awareness on the issues in Singapore. Both of these are closely related to our interactions with people, specifically in Singapore. I felt that a lot of what we are trying to achieve does not only apply to those in our society that need extra support but connecting with the members in a personal & genuine way, just like you would with anyone you meet.
These activities and findings are closely related to LO5: Collaboration. Not only did we have to work as an effective team to generate ideas, but we have also learned more about how to collaborate with the care center members. During this process, I found that the hardest part of planning our line of activities and lessons was our lack of initial information given about the people in the care center. Even after visiting the center and seeing some of the members, it was hard to predict what kind of people they would be and what they were each comfortable doing. As a result, all of us helped in doing some research by looking online at their homepage and other blogs/community resources. This helped us gain a better understanding of who they were and what help they required. Knowing a little about the history of the center itself also gave us some insight as to what the center does to help its members, and how we (as UWC students), can contribute to this process. I feel that collaboration was a crucial part of the introduction to our service, and most of our group members were very vocal with their ideas, and we were able to come up with more quality ideas as a result. After taking time to brainstorm collectively and create a better understanding of how to communicate and strengthen relationships with the members, we are ready to welcome them to our school this coming Tuesday.
Having been involved in HS Beyond Snapshots for over a month, I feel that I have enough of an understanding to write the first reflection. Unlike what I initially expected, the classes are focused primarily on practice and demonstration rather than theory or ‘lessons’. Being on my feet and using the camera every class keeps me engaged and interested, despite it being a Monday afternoon.
So far, we have covered the fundamentals of using a DLSR camera, and the different settings on it. We have learned new terminologies such as ‘shutter speed’, ‘aperture’, and ‘ISO’. ISO refers to how sensitive the camera is to light, and you have to adjust it according to the environment around you to take a crisp photo. Shutter speed refers to the amount of time the shutter is open, which means you can set it to take an action shot or blur moving backgrounds. Lastly, the aperture is the size of the lens opening and controls the focus in a photo. Even after covering these new words over the course of around four weeks, it is still difficult to have all the different settings to work together to create the image I want it to, and that is what I found to be most challenging. However, constantly practicing for the majority of class time, and doing this together with my friends made the challenges more enjoyable.
My experience so far connects most with LO2: Challenge/New Skills. Most recently, we learned how to take better portraits, and what angles to take to get a more interesting shot. (images inserted below) This class was the most interesting to me personally because it was most applicable to my daily life. Through social media platforms and online resources, taking photos of people (or yourself) has become an increasingly popular practice, but it’s something we usually take on our phone quickly when we have some spare time. I had never used a proper camera to take portrait photos and found that it made a really big difference despite phone cameras being so developed recently. As we only have a few more weeks of season 1 activities, I am excited to learn the last parts of using a DSLR camera properly, and hope to continue to develop my personal skills outside of school.
What is self-awareness, and why is it important?
Self-awareness is to be conscious of your own nature and feelings. Being self-aware enables you to reflect on your actions and the intentions behind them, which in turn allows you to be in further control of yourself. People who are self-aware tend to be more successful and comfortable in community environments, which is a trait that is becoming increasingly important today. Compared to the last decade, work environments are changing globally to become a more creative and sociable setting, and being able to regulate your emotions that will impact your actions is immensely important.
Being self-aware also means that you know where your strengths and weaknesses lie, and you know what is right and wrong for you. This way, you can apply yourself to situations in which you perform your best while concealing your weaknesses. In truth, self-awareness is really connected to every aspect in which we live our lives. It’s connected to how we act and feel, how we decide what to do, and our interactions with others.
Personally, I have a lot to learn and practice in terms of self-awareness, but I think that this point in my life might be the perfect chance for me to do so. Junior year of high school is a very demanding and challenging year for the majority of students, one that requires self-awareness to an extent. Knowing where your limits are, and what you are capable of doing without putting too much stress or strain on yourself (both physically and mentally), is a skill that we must develop now in order to effectively support ourselves throughout all the challenges to come in the future.
This past July, my family was lucky enough to move to Singapore and experience the unique culture and environment here. During the last weeks of summer break, I began to notice a few major points of distinction between Singapore and Japan, where I moved from.
I found that there was a real diversity of nationalities and ethnicities within people, especially compared to Japan, being one of the least ethnically diverse populations in the world. There seemed to be an abundance of acceptance, with less people appearing to be alienated by others. Though I personally had grown up in an international environment, meeting students from all over the world, it was still a revelation to see the people around me accept and celebrate the heterogeneity of the Singaporean population. In terms of understanding the change in my actions in a psychological perspective, I feel that there was a sociocultural factor influencing how I understood and adapted to the environment here after seeing the people be so inclusive and embracive of each other. I found that this experience was one of the most rewarding lessons I learned from moving around the world, and feel that it really brought a positive change into my life as a whole.
With my junior year of high school starting in 3 days, what do I know so far?
1. School Environment
Moving into a new country, let alone going to a new school, has always brought new excitement, but also a significant amount of tension. Yet, after experiencing orientation at UWCSEA, I know that I feel safe and happy here, and that I will be able to perform at my best whether that be with academics or other related activities.
2. Importance of Grade 11
Even before starting junior year, I’ve always known that junior year of high school is one of the most important academic years of a student’s life, with more responsibility and drive needed. For these reasons, this coming year is one that I know I will have to work harder at, especially with being a new student and resident. Now, I also know that on top of all these expectations, the school will support me in all the ways possible, and that I will never be alone going through this journey.
3. Freedom & Variety
Lastly, I know that here at UWCSEA, I will also have a variety of opportunities to pursue other hobbies alongside my studies, and that I will have the freedom to try new activities and hopefully get a better sense of who I am as a person.
I’m excited to see what other things I learn about grade 11 at UWCSEA, hoping that this year will be one of the best.