Monthly Archives: June 2019

CAS Reflection: Service (RDA) – Reflection 4

CAS Reflection: Service

Riding for the Disabled Association (RDA)

Reflection 4

Learning Outcome(s):

  1. Demonstrate engagement with issues of global significance.

 

My time volunteering at this service has honestly taught me a lot. I’ve learned not only about ASD and cerebral palsy, but also a method of therapy which never really occurred to me before. RDA focuses on using riding as a way to offer physiotherapy to children who have physical disabilities, and it also offers a way for children with cognitive disorders to interact with people and horses and give them a change of pace.

I think a service working for a cause like this is highly significant as it offers children new experiences that they may not have gotten elsewhere, and there’s many social benefits to it for the child as well as physical and psychological benefits. Often times it can be difficult for these children to achieve this, so organisations like RDA can really help in making a difference and I think that’s really amazing.

Being a sidewalker allowed me to really interact with the children and learn about them as learners/riders as well as just who they were and though at times it was tough, it was really rewarding seeing their progress as the sessions passed and seeing them learn new skills. I actually received some minor leader training where I helped lead the horse of my rider rather than act as a sidewalker, but I chose not to continue the training as I felt like I was making a greater impact on the kids as a sidewalker. I think this experience of volunteering at RDA has made me a lot more aware of different physical disorders too, and it allowed me to get first-hand experience with working with children with ASD and I’ve definitely learned a lot along the way.

 

CAS Reflection: Service (RDA) – Reflection 3

CAS Reflection: Service

Riding for the Disabled Association (RDA)

Reflection 3

Learning Outcome(s):

  1. Recognise and consider the ethics implications of choices and actions.

 

Working with different riders throughout my time volunteering at RDA has been a really interesting experience. All of my riders so far have had ASD but the way I’ve had to help them differs. There are times where working with certain riders can be really difficult and there are times where it can get frustrating if they do not want to listen or do the activities they have to do. In times like these I try to stay as patient as I can and not let my frustration show as I don’t want to upset the child and make them dislike riding. Additionally, there’s a possibility that getting frustrated will cause the child to become uncomfortable with working with me and/or others which isn’t desirable, so I try to keep my cool and be patient and understanding.

I’ve never been in any conflict with the riders or the staff, though with the rider I’ve just begun working with it can be a little stressful for my friend and I. The rider often throws tantrums as he doesn’t want to do the stretches and he only wants to get on the horse, but what was uncomfortable for us was that we weren’t sure where to ask for help. The staff members are usually busy helping get the arena and the horses ready and sometimes the parents, as in this case, are not as willing to help out. I think in situations like this was where I really needed to consider my actions so we could avoid any extreme conflicts. We chose not to force the child into doing the stretches, and at the end of the session during our reporting, we mentioned it to the staff then as it is a more confidential issue and out of respect for the boy and his father as they may not appreciate it. From mentioning it, the staff could offer us some advice that could help for our next session.

Essentially, I didn’t want to put stress on both the child and his father as they both seemed quite unhappy with the situation. In situations like this, I think it’s important to maintain our composure and push through with a smile so as to not make the child any more uncomfortable. At the same time, discussing it privately is more respectful than discussing it with the parent in cases like this where we might end up risking the child not showing up for sessions anymore.

 

CAS Reflection: Project Week – Reflection 3 (Action)

CAS Reflection: Project Week

Project Week in Chiang Mai, Thailand

Reflection 3

Action

 

Learning Outcome(s):

  1. Demonstrate engagement with issues of global significance.

 

Project Week was one of the most amazing experiences this year for me. As someone who was initially terrified of the idea of it, it was so much more casual and fun than I thought it would be.

One of my favourite parts of Project Week was definitely visiting School For Life. The first day we were working with younger kids who were very shy, so it was a little difficult for us to try and engage them in different activities. On the second day, however, we worked with slightly older kids who were maybe around 2 years younger than us, but it was one of the best experiences. Though we couldn’t properly understand each other, I could see that the kids were willingly trying to learn English through talking to us, and they also taught us some Thai along the way. I especially bonded with two girls in particular because we shared a love for the same music groups. Meeting and bonding with these kids showed me a lot. School For Life especially works in order to provide education and shelter for children who may not have access to it. I’ve learned about organisations like this all throughout my school career, however this is probably the first time I’ve really been integrated and seen it firsthand. Seeing the children there working so hard to learn and have fun in life was amazing to see, but it also reminded me of how there are still many children in the world, not just in Thailand, who still don’t have access to education.

We actually donated speakers as well as a certain sum of money to help with infrastructure to try and offer more aid, but I think our visit where we spent time bonding with the children and helping them speak English through our interactions had a positive impact on the children directly. Even after only one day with them, they showed a better understanding of English, and it made me so happy to see them really bonding with all of us. Honestly, we had a lot of fun there, and we were really sad to leave.

Aside from service, we also did two days of activity; one day rafting and one day trekking. Rafting was something I was very comfortable with as I had done it before, however due to the time of year in which we were going, we actually had to raft individually (with guides in our individual boats of course) which was something new, but I actually didn’t get worried about it at all. It was an amazing experience. However, I think the lowlight of my Project Week experience would have probably been trekking. I’m not very strong when it comes to trekking, but I agreed to the activity as a compromise because my group members really wanted to do it. It turned out to be one of the hardest treks I had ever done and I honestly did not enjoy most of it. We should have really assessed the difficulty of the trek with our own skills and either prepared for it beforehand, or chosen something that wasn’t that far out of our comfort zone.

Overall though, I really enjoyed my Project Week experience and I really miss it. I find it hilarious now how scared I was for this back in Grade 5 when it actually turned out to be very streamlined and a lot easier. I learned a lot of life skills and independence and I’m really thankful for this experience.

 

CAS Reflection: Project Week – Reflection 2 (Preparation)

CAS Reflection: Project Week

Project Week in Chiang Mai, Thailand

Reflection 2

Preparation

 

Learning Outcome(s):

  1. Recognise and consider the ethics implications of choices and actions.

 

As we’re in the process of preparing for our trip, there are a lot of things we need to consider right now. One of the most important things we should consider is the difference in cultures. The service where we will be volunteering at will most likely be quite conservative and so we have to respect that by dressing appropriately (this being shoulders covered and longer pants). Also, as there is a temple across from our hostel we were thinking of visiting it before we leave for the airport on the last day. As it is a religious area, that’s another place we must remain conservative in case we do decide to visit. It’s important that we respect Thailand’s culture as we are visitors and also, in the case of service, we want to make it a comfortable experience for both us and the kids.

I think our group is quite lucky in the sense that we haven’t had any major conflicts with each other throughout the planning and preparation stages of Project Week and I’d say this is because though maybe our values are different, we all agree on being transparent with each other and respectful. By respectfully discussing our views on things we should do we definitely avoided a lot of conflict and it allowed for us to make group decisions that were mutually made. If someone didn’t agree, then we would try to compromise because having major disagreements can end up impacting our whole trip and none of us want that. In terms of my own decision making, my moral principles are to listen to and respect others’ contributions so the way we handled our decision making was very aligned with what I believe cooperation should look like.

With all of our preparation, we’ve been able to create an itinerary that flows well and I feel a lot more confident in going compared to the beginning of the planning.

(the very first part of our itinerary)

CAS Reflection: Project Week – Reflection 1 (Planning)

CAS Reflection: Project Week

Project Week in Chiang Mai, Thailand

Reflection 1

Planning/Investigation

 

Learning Outcome(s):

  1. Demonstrate how to initiate and plan a CAS experience.

 

Project week is something I’m quite nervous for. I remember kids talking about it even back when I joined this school in Grade 5. For most people it’s something they’re looking forward to but for me it’s something I know is going to be extremely stressful. Planning activities and experiences isn’t all that new for me as it is something I feel I do in everyday life, however Project Week is a whole other story. We have to plan our itinerary and book flights, accommodation, and so forth, sort of by ourselves, but thankfully we’re in a group so it isn’t as intimidating as it could be.

My group and I have decided that we want to visit Chiang Mai as for 3 of them, they’ve never been. I have visited Chiang Mai for Grade 8 camp, but it was a place where I wanted to definitely return. Also, it’s somewhat close to Singapore and its a little safer than other countries. It was quite easy for us to make decisions together since I’m in a group with 3 of my friends so we knew each other well enough to make planning a lot easier. We all want to do service and activity during our trip because we have a mutual feeling that this will allow us to really experience something new, as creativity is something we can do in Singapore. After looking into providers, we had chosen to work with Children’s Shelter Foundation (CSF) and 8Adventures, however we got rejected for CSF in our proposal as many Chiang Mai groups wanted to work with them, so instead we chose to work with School For Life. In Grade 8 I actually visited CSF so I wasn’t too upset with this.

Assigning roles in the group was also easy as we all wanted to do different things. I’m the service organiser so I’ve been emailing School For Life about activities they would like us to do with the children as well as booking the accommodation there for two days. Choosing our hostel was also easy, but I think the biggest struggle in our planning process was flights. Only groups going to Chiang Mai weren’t allowed to be in the same place at the same time regardless of whether we knew the other group or not, so that made booking flights really stressful. Originally we were supposed to leave on the 26th of May, however the flights we were looking at were arriving too late as on this day we were supposed to be driven to service and we had to be there early. So, we had to request to leave a day earlier, but because of delays in communication, a lot of flights were getting taken out as well as prices rising so we had no choice but to book the same outbound flight as another Chiang Mai group. The actual booking was really bad for me though. I offered to book the flights but there were so many complications along the way. We had chosen an AirAsia flight, which allows passengers under 18 to fly alone, but when we were booking through other sites with cheaper prices, it wouldn’t allow me to book because it noticed that all of us were only 16-17 years old. So I had to book through the actual AirAsia website and prices had gone up, but when I went to pay, I had to pay through E-NETS and because of some ad settings I had on my browser, it didn’t work and from then on I wasn’t able to book flights at all. After two group members trying we finally managed to book the flights but it was so stressful.

Aside from that, so far planning has been pretty easy, though at times our activity provider did not respond to us it would get resolved quickly. I think making sure that we have a general idea of what our days are going to look like is helpful in preparing us for actually going on the trip.