Last October, during “Philippines Week,” Cebu International School worked on community service projects as part of their various field trips. Many of these projects focused on the obstacles facing Filipino children in the area of education and nutrition. So CIS students had the chance to make relationships with children across the country to learn about the conditions in which many Filipinos live and to help improve those conditions.
Those students who stayed at CIS during “Philippines Week” took part in a similar activity at Binaliw National Elementary School. The school, located about 15 minutes up the hill from CIS, faces the same issues as many public schools- many students are under nourished and cannot afford basic school supplies. The school itself lacks many resources. Over the last 2 years CIS has been sharing library books and school supplies with Binaliw. At the same time, Mr. de Santo and some students from grade 11 and 12 have been working with principals, teachers, and students of Binaliw in an attempt to build a friendship between the two schools. The Binaliw community is very welcoming; it is a comfortable place where teachers and students are always happy to host us.
Mr. de Santo, one of our English teachers and myself, brought a small group of about 15 students to the school every day. Our students will spent some time reading with younger Binaliw students. The 6th, 7th and 8th grade worked with 1st and 2nd graders, the 9th graders with 3rd ad 4th graders, and the 10th-12th graders with 5th graders. Then our students helped with the feeding program. They served food, shared a meal, and cleaned up.
Students were not asked for any money for this short excursion, CIS covered the costs. We asked them to bring their friendliness and enthusiasm plus a notebook and pencil for reflections. This was certainly a very valuable experience. While we were not be able to replicate the experience of those students who participated in the various activities of Philippines Week, it was our hope that the students who remained at here at CIS achieveed the same learning outcomes as their classmates taking part in the various field trips.
I hope it has been an extremely rewarding experience, since Classrooms without walls can be exceptional learning experiences. Our plan is not a simple one shot experience. We adbocate sustainability at CIS, and there are already some students talking about the creation of an action group at CIS to tighten the link amongst both school by carrying out a real sustainable project that lasts the whole School Year. Let’s see how it goes!