Project Week (CAS Reflection 2)

CAS Stages 2 (Preparation) and 4 (Reflection)

The news that Project Week would not be allowed to continue due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic was not easy to stomach, by me or by anyone in my group; we were all very excited to visit Laos and engage in a week of environmental service, and the realisation that not only would we not be able to follow through with the trip, but that the planning and preparation that we had conducted for the trip was also null, was difficult. Project Week has always been seen as one of the cornerstone components of the IB experience (along with Prom, Grad walk, Graduation, and so on), so receiving the news that we would not be able to go through with it, to put bluntly, sucked. Nonetheless, I still feel that a valuable experience can be derived from the process of planning, preparation, and investigation that went into it. As logistics officer, I was namely involved with budgeting, transportation, and looking over how we would, in broad strokes, organise the trip. Whilst the planning didn’t go as far as I’d have liked it (we were cut short before making any bookings or reservations, which I suppose may even be a positive, as we didn’t have to contend with the additional burden of asking for refunds or getting our money back), I still thoroughly liked the experience in looking, over the internet, at an entirely foreign and unfamiliar country (Laos), from the rural area where we would actually perform our service (Luang Prabang) and the capital (Vientiane), and looking over bookings, hostels, restaurants, and so on. Overall, though project week did not go through, I feel that the skills I honed in planning transportation, accommodation, etc. have nonetheless grown me as a person and improved my independence.

Project Week (CAS Reflection 1)

CAS Stages 1 (Investigation) and 2 (Preparation)

With preparation for Project Week having begun, I have joined with my group, (Calum, Jake, James, Oliver and I), and begun to plan out how our Project week will proceed. We’ve been bombarded with so much information about how to organise our trips, what to do, where to go, and what types of trip to do (adventure or service trip). We eventually decided on a service trip, but chose to opt for environmental service, a topic which is very close to members of our group (especially Calum). Wanting to remain within SEA (to reduce travel costs and make organisation more easy), we eventually settled on caring for elephants in the rural Luang Prabang region of Laos; a prospect which excited me, having never visited Laos in my life. Leveraging my wishes to help out with the organisational side of things, I was appointed as logistics officer; I think this will take advantage of my natural organisational abilities and, hopefully, make a significant and meaningful contribution to the team as a whole. I am hugely excited at the prospect of Project week.

Jakarta Street Kids (CAS Reflection 2)

LO6: Demonstrate engagement with issues of global significance

Having concluded my time in Jakarta Street Kids (joining up in Grade 11 as vice-chair until Grade 12, where I have to relinquish my position), I find myself much more aware of the scale of poverty in the world, in addition to the ways that out global community must work to address it. To be very clear, I am in no way implying that my time in JSK somehow solved poverty or even took any substantial steps towards relief efforts; we worked to sell their upcycled products, but that is in no way implying that it somehow solved the problem. However, even with COVID reducing the scale of the fundraisers we could do substantially, I find my eyes much more opened to how difficult the lives of those living in poverty are, and how those more privileged in the world should work hard to ensure that the less fortunate members of society are still cared for and looked after.

Pottery (CAS Reflection 1)

LO2: Demonstrate that challenges have been undertaken, developing new skills in the process.

Despite being a very new experience for me, and my lack of previous experience with it, I have very much enjoyed the new challenges presented to me within pottery. In our first class, we went over the basics for producing a pinch pot and working with clay (when to use water, when to use slip, how clay is dried, glazed, and fired, etc.), and, after that short introduction, we were allowed to work freely with clay (though only by hand, not using wheels). I was initially overwhelmed by the amount of freedom present within making anything out of clay, but I soon found that actually making things I was satisfied with was much more difficult. I decided I wanted to make something that I, personally, would have appreciated more than a pot; I decided to make a bunch of little clay animals (whales, elephants, turtles, etc.). Obviously, the craftsmanship was shoddy, and the end product was quite lumpy, but I nonetheless enjoyed the challenge of making something I truly enjoyed over producing a pot that I invariably would not have used.

Boxing (Cas Reflection 3)

LO4: What impact did my commitment or lack thereof have on the success of this activity?

Despite the circuit breaker’s announcement meaning that I will not be able to practise boxing in the environment that I could before, I still feel the fact that I was able to commit to it for ~3 seasons has had a profound impact on me even outside of the activity itself. For instance, despite the circuit breaker, I find that I am more motivated to stay active and practise exercise, whether that be some at-home workouts or going out for a run. I can attribute a large part of this new motivation to boxing; despite it being, more often than not, something I did not feel that motivated to attend, the fact that I continued to do so meant that I entered a routine that added an active element to my school week, week-in, week-out. Even outside of this routine, with the circuit breaker, I feel the necessity for some form of physical exercise; boxing has put my in a mindset where I should be healthy, and I feel happier and more satisfied as a result.

IFP (Cas Reflection 3)

LO6: What did I learn about this issue? Why is it a significant issue?

With IFP now on hold as a result of the “circuit breaker” announced, as well as the fact that the IFP conferences themselves will not be carried through, it seems to be a good time to pause and reflect on what new issues I was actually introduced to in IFP, and how these issues actually were significant. Having been registered for the Timor Leste conference, much of our preparation time before the actual conference planning was devoted to addressing extremely large questions regarding peace-building; questions that would force us to actually think about the impact we were having. We discussed questions such as “What is violence?” in the context of real-world instances of violence (e.g the Israeli-Palestinian conflict), and also applied a combination of theoretical knowledge (such as our study of Galtung’s pyramid of violence, that affirms that there are three types of violence; direct, cultural, and structural) to supplement our practical understanding of conflict in the world. This meant that, despite not actually being able to learn about the conflict in Timor Leste in IFP, I was still able to gain a profound and applicable perspective on the nature, manifestations of, and real-life impact of violence in the world, a skill that would help me not only in IFP (or, I suppose, would have helped me more if the conferences had not been called off), but also in general, in helping me gain a better understanding about the presence and manifestations of violence in the world. Overall, despite the lack of a conference, I feel that I can still walk away from IFP knowing that I have gained an invaluable and multi-faceted new perspective on the world; one that I can apply to a variety of other activities or subjects, and can be a useful future asset.

IFP (CAS Reflection 2)

LO3: Demonstrate how to initiate and plan a CAS experience.

Initiative for Peace has, I find, been a great choice as an activity thus far in the year. Not only does it fit snugly into my week’s schedule, running from 4:30-6:00 on Tuesday (I do Boxing from 3:00-4:30), but it is also a great chance to learn a different set of skills and also meet, and interact with, many people I would not normally see. The best things about IFP are not only the wide community of people who attend the activity, allowing me to get to know many people I do not share classes with, but also the set of conflict-resolution skills that we learn as part of the activity. I have never given much thought to the specific skills required to facilitate the construction of a lasting sense of peace or the practical skills required to organise an event such as a conference, so it has been a very constructive learning experience for me to acquire these practical skills, despite the fact that it may have been, to begin with, somewhat strange to actually sit down and learn these skills. The ability to foster conversation and facilitate an understanding is one that I have never had to consciously learn, and, hence, has rendered this season of IFP a very eventful one.  I look forwards to continuing the year in IFP, this despite the fact that, due to the coronavirus, our Timor Leste and Mae Sot conferences have been cancelled, which was a significant obstacle to my CAS experience, as I was very much looking forwards to attending.

Boxing/Muay Thai (CAS Reflection 2)

LO7: Recognise and consider the ethics of choices and actions

Having now done four consecutive years of in-school boxing (from Grade 9 to Grade 12), I find myself more and more aware of the impacts that boxing has had on my life, both in school and out, and the consequences of taking it, both positive and negative, on my life. Boxing has, without a doubt, made me a more active, and fulfilled, person. I find that the constance of it (at 3:00-4:30 on Tuesday every day) helped me get into a routine that’s difficult to break (even if I am tired or don’t really feel like going to boxing at all). This is also not considering the friendships and acquaintances I have made within the activity, and the considerations towards others I have learned in the class. Though it may appear banal, things as small as using just the right amount of power, not too much or too little, when engaging in padwork with a partner, or making sure to put away boxing gloves so others are not inconvenienced, have been drilled into me; I am more considerate of others, in the ring and out, and more aware of the consequences my actions have on them.

Memoirs of the Pioneer Generation (CAS Reflection 3)

LO4: Show commitment to and perseverance in your CAS experience.

Our second season of service has ended, and has brought with it large changes. Despite our best efforts in adapting our activities to better suit the clients of the elderly center, we have found our efforts less-than-fruitful in furthering our end-goal; that of interviewing both clients and those who care for them and cataloguing said interviews (hence, “Memoirs” of the pioneer generation). However, a significant setback in the path of our service has been how hesitant our clients have been to actually speak; we have been unable to create a close enough social bond to gather any information from them. Similarly, those who work at the center have been unwilling to provide us with any sort of interview. Hence, in view of this setback, our service has adopted a different strategy; that of splitting up and joining with other local services in school, and working with them to gain a different perspective on service as a whole, a perspective we will be able to bring back to the group and hopefully translate into a valuable insight into service. I, personally, have joined with YMCA Student Care Center, with which I hope that I will be able to gain a different perspective, and, hopefully, overcome this setback to our service.

Memoirs of the Pioneer Generation (CAS Reflection 2)

LO3: Demonstrate how to initiate and plan a CAS experience.

LO5: Demonstrate the skills and recognise the benefits of working collaboratively.

With our first season of Service concluded, I find that Memoirs of the Pioneer generation has been a strong fit for me, despite some challenges and apprehension. Firstly, despite much planning and initiative for activities, with our service group entering the senior center with clear ideas on how we wanted to conduct our sessions, we rapidly found that our plans did not develop as we wanted them to. With many senior clients of the center having relatively short attention spans, many of our planned activities (board games, ball games, etc.) that did not provide immediate gratification and somewhat fast-paced fun soon fell apart. Though our first activities, as a simple get-to-know-you, were ball games where we learnt the names of the clients of the center, we somewhat rudimentary, as we were forced to improvise and abandon our initial plan, we soon overcame the challenge of planning and adapting our expectations of the activity to fit the clients. As we tailored our plans to better fit them, by prioritising activities more accessible to them and less likely to lose their interest, we found a greater degree of engagement with our clients (though, despite our best efforts, some of them remained quite distant and reluctant to socialise). Nonetheless, despite our difficulties with planning and the challenges that organising sessions presented, I feel that the first season of service has been a productive and personally enjoyable one.