All posts by rout17798@gapps.uwcsea.edu.sg

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.

CAS Reflection: Service (RDA) – Reflection 2

CAS Reflection: Service

Riding for the Disabled Association (RDA)

Reflection 2

 

Learning Outcome(s):

  1. Demonstrate the skills and recognise the benefits of working collaboratively.

 

As we concluded the first term of working with riders, I found it amazing to see the progress the child that I was helping made. Personally, I feel as though if it were just me alone who was monitoring this child, or just my friend, it would have been a lot more difficult to help him make the progress he did. Both of us keep on the lookout for his safety and help each other support him whether it’s keeping his back straight or helping him engage in activities, and I think both of us constantly working to try and talk to him made him quite comfortable with us. Unlike at the start, he would listen to us and started putting in more effort.

 

Aside from just his riding skills, we also saw an improvement in his acknowledgement of other people and he was much more willing to respond when someone else would talk to him. Additionally, he always used to ask us and the teacher if we could go for a walk in the garden (the jungle path) with everybody. Initially when we would tell him “no” or “maybe” he would get very upset as it didn’t go according to his own plans. However, towards the end of his term, when we told him “no”, he would be okay with it and accept it, yet he would still work hard during his sessions. Both my friend and I were quite sad when this term came to an end because we really enjoyed seeing him make progress.

 

We have recently started the next term with a new set of riders and I have another kid who has ASD, however he is a few years younger than the previous rider I worked with. He is completely different though, despite having the same condition so I realised quickly that there were certain things I would have to do differently with him than I did with my previous rider. This time though, we have been split up and put into new pairs. For the first session, I was working with this new volunteer. Unlike last time, I didn’t have any connection to this person and I had some experience unlike him, so this time I had to take on the role of a sort of mentor instead and help him by teaching him skills I learned from working with my previous rider as well as reassuring him in areas where he was unsure of what to do.

 

My partner ended up switching though every session until about the 4th one, so each time I had to help my new partner learn about how to assist the kid we were working with. I feel like without working together with your partner sidewalker, it can be really difficult helping kids as you can be very unsure of what to do, therefore I always tried to help new partners and also accept whatever they would suggest to me so we could make sure the rider was having the best experience they could.

CAS Reflection: Activity (Kahaani) – Reflection 2

CAS Reflection: Activity

Kahaani 2019 West India

Reflection 2

 

Learning Outcome(s):

4. Show commitment to and perseverance in CAS experiences. Students can articulate the stages from conceiving an idea to executing a plan for a CAS experience or series of CAS experiences

 

Now that Kahaani has come to an end, I’m honestly quite sad because though I struggled quite a bit, it was a really memorable experience for my friends and I.

 

There were challenges I had to undertake personally, such as having to learn a dance by myself over the December break as well as working on the second dance which the whole group does. Additionally, the dance leaders of our group had to change our last dance at the last minute due to complications with the song, so our entire group including the leaders had to learn a new choreography for the last dance. Though it used similar steps from what it was previously, it was so much faster and all of us were struggling with it.

 

We didn’t have much time left until the day of the show though, so after school every single day, I began using the videos we shot during practice to perfect the moves just like how I learned the first dance. Although, it took me a lot longer and a lot more hard work to try and remember this dance due to its fast tempo and upbeat choreography, but I did it.

 

I think that after this experience, I’ve really combatted my stage fright, so much so that even my University Advisor told me that I had really become much more outgoing and bold. I was nervous for Kahaani just like I was for Culturama, however for different reasons. In Culturama I was nervous because it was my first time going on stage. On the other hand, I was nervous in Kahaani mostly due to the fact that the audience was actually seated directly in front of where we were dancing as we were performing in the main hall rather than the auditorium. It can be a little nerve-wracking and distracting because I could see and recognise almost everyone I saw, but when it actually came to the real performance, I managed to swallow my nerves and really have fun. Even if I made a small mistake I could just laugh it off and continue having a great time.

part of the final performance

CAS Reflection: Activity (Kahaani) – Reflection 1

CAS Reflection: Activity

Kahaani 2019 West India

Reflection 1

 

Learning Outcome(s):

  1. Identify their own strengths and develop areas for growth.  

 

To complete my activity requirements for CAS, I chose to take part in Kahaani this year. Kahaani is another dance show focused around Indian cultural dances that is organised by school, however it is organised by Kolkata GC (global concern) and all the money raised from the event is donated to an organisation situated in Kolkata.

 

I wanted to take part in Kahaani this year because after my past experience in Culturama, I had a newfound interest and appreciation in dancing. I also thought that if I liked this new activity so much, I shouldn’t just leave it to one experience, therefore I signed up for the dance. Also, I thought this would be a good way to experience my own culture as I am a little detached from it since, despite being Indian myself, I have lived in Singapore and attended international schools for the majority of my life.

 

Upon joining, I had already come across several difficulties. The dance style was obviously different from the dance style I learned in Culturama. I found these dances that I need to learn for Kahaani are much more intricate and focus on tinier details compared to the dances I learned for Ghana in Culturama which focus more on bigger, well-rounded movements. But overtime, I managed to grow accustomed to it and learning the dance became less hard.

 

In our dance, there are 4 dances altogether. Everyone in our group will be performing the second and last dance, however we’re split into two groups and one performs the first dance and the other performs the third. In my opinion, the third dance was very energetic and a bit fast, whereas the first dance was much more delicate and focused heavily on grace. Initially I was in the third dance but I was struggling a lot. I found that the beats were not easy to follow for me and I would forget the steps no matter how much I practiced after school, so much so that it began to put me under a lot of stress as we were on a time crunch. However, I ended up getting switched to the first dance as there were other dancers from that group who had dropped out of Kahaani altogether and that group had too few people in it. I found that the first dance was so much easier for me to learn and that there was clearly a certain style of dancing that I seemed to go better with, and in this case it was more fast grace. Having this affinity for this style of dance made me enjoy the dance a lot more and I didn’t find myself beating myself up over any mistakes as much.

 

The biggest struggle with this however, was that I had to learn the dance by myself due to the fact that it was such a last minute change, but I was okay with this. I used videos from the dance leaders and videos of the original group during practice as a reference. The dance itself was still a little difficult for me, but learning a dance by myself was the biggest challenge, but I’m really proud of myself because I was able to do it.

^ The original dance I was assigned to (3rd dance)

first time running through the other dance after learning it all beforehand (1st dance)

 

CAS Reflection: Creativity (HS Arts Club) – Reflection 3

CAS Reflection: Creativity

HS Arts Club

Reflection 3

 

Learning Outcome(s):

  1. Demonstrate the skills and recognise the benefits of working collaboratively.

 

For our final project, we planned to create a mural which incorporated all of our art styles to represent the HS Arts Club, and at the same time we had a baby dragon looking up at countries dangling from the top of the painting, each of which is a host country to a different UWC campus. As I mentioned in my last reflection, the planning process really needed to involve everybody working together in order to reach the final plan of what we were going to do.

 

Then, once we came up with the plan, each of us designed a possible draft for our countries. We showed each other our draft and we were allowed to give feedback to each other on what was good and what we could do to improve it for the final piece. Working together like that was insightful to me as it allowed me to see the different range of perspectives of other artists rather than someone who will just tell me that “it’s good” or that “it’s bad”. We did this previously when we were brainstorming ideas and it was by using everyone’s ideas that we were able to create a whole piece.

CAS Reflection: Creativity (HS Arts Club) – Reflection 2

CAS Reflection: Creativity

HS Arts Club

Reflection 2

 

Learning Outcome(s):

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

 

I spent several sessions all the way until before the December break completing the painting I was working on previously as well as working on several sketches which allowed me to improve on my own skills as an artist.

I had to finish all of this before the break because we had began to plan a group project that involved every member of the HS Arts Club. Before we broke up for the break, we were planning by brainstorming ideas and synthesising ideas from every member. We knew we wanted to do something that involved a representation of our school, however we couldn’t come to a consensus without everyone contributing their ideas and votes.

Of course our final plan kept undergoing changes because everybody had different ideas and I felt as though it was important that we did that, including myself, because at the end of it we do want to create a final piece that encapsulates our skills as well as represents our school. We decided finally on representing all of the UWCs around the world and their respective countries. We also wanted to incorporate a dragon and also key landmarks of those countries; so each of us was assigned a country and I took on Japan because it is a culture mildly foreign to me and the landmarks I chose would be a little tricky to draw so this way I could push myself.

From this planning experience, I definitely realised how important it was to really give your own input in group discussions. There were times when nobody said anything in the discussion and it would be difficult for the leaders of the HS Arts Club to gather everyone’s opinion on what we should do, which is why I tried to contribute as much as I could. Contributing sparked further discussion and also more group involvement which allowed us to come to a final plan and I think that’s pretty cool.