The Community Service Club (CSC) is all about starting small to reach for bigger goals. Starting in September 2011, the Community Service club has been devoted to helping the children in the Primary Burmese School just a corner away from ISM. We meet with the children on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays from 3-4 pm almost every week. All members of the Community Service club truly engage themselves into educating and making a brighter day for these children. We engage the children in fun activities such as art, gardening, games and English teaching. As the months have passed by, it is evident that the children’s abilities are growing as well as their desire for learning.
Once, we had a day where we planted a small garden in the front yard of their school. The children in the school got together with the members from the CSC and planted eggplants, onions, grapes and flowers. We told them that these tiny seedlings would grow to be big plants with fruits and huge leaves. We told them that they were just like those seedlings, ready to burst out and become mature and caring citizens. We regularly went to check on the seedlings and in only three months they had become huge plants with full-grown vegetables and fruit ready to harvest. The children all gathered around their little garden with proud smiles on their face and we came to realize that we had made a sustainable difference. This garden is something that will stay with their little school forever.
In English teaching class, we blended some humor and fun with what we were teaching to get the kids motivated and interested. We engaged some friendly competition between groups and got them involved by creating colorful posters about with the words they were learning. We could tell that some kidswere truly attracted to our lessons since they would study new material once they got home. We’ve sat where these kids are sitting now, so to speak, in a class, listening to a teacher drone on and on about something that nobody was listening to. So, we're making it our mission to get the children excited with fun activities but still maintain their focus on learning.
In Art class, we carried out activities such as coloring, drawing, face and hand painting and card making. The kids enjoyed the face and hand painting tremendously because they could have their favorite cartoon character, object, or animal drawn onto them by the members of our CS group. The card-making activity was also a huge success during Christmas and each child received a Merry-Christmas card from the CS club.
One very memorable time was when we brought over donations from the ISM Community Service week to the Burmese school. Our donations included books, pencils, pens, canned food, rice, eggs, clothes, and hygiene materials such as soap, shampoo, toothbrushes, and toothpaste. We emerged into their little school carrying boxes and books and supplies and bags like a sort of bizarrely happy marching band. All the kids in the school as well as their headmistress and teachers came rushing out, all looking like little children on the morning of Christmas receiving their presents.
With our donations, the headmistress and the teachers at the school cooked Mohinga, Coconut curry soup, and tuna salad for all of the students and served them while the children were taking their year-end exams. She also passed out the clothes and told us that the students truly enjoyed getting the “new” clothing to show off on their holidays. Our old has become their new.
Everyday around our neighborhood, we see kids our age lugging around huge pails of water to their houses, we see young boys playing with marbles while they could be going to school, and we see young girls serving Mohinga in the local shops while they could be earning a good education. “Once there is seeing, there must be acting. Otherwise, what is the use of seeing?” Thich Nhat Hanh, Vietnamese Zen Master and author of Peace is Every Step once said. Our CS club does the best we can to help out with what we see. Although we may not be able to change everything all at once, by starting out small and giving what we can, we are making bigger and bigger changes day-by-day. Simply by seeing, caring, giving and
changing we are truly making a difference!
Written by Yuri