At UWCSEA, all Grade 11s undertake a year of Local Service, as part of the official requirements for the IB Diploma. At the beginning of the academic year, Grade 11s choose the Service they would like to participate in and there are so many choices; options include singing or playing instruments for patients at a hospital (Music on the Move), helping children with developmental needs affected by social prejudice (Beyond Social Services), and Mercu Buddies (running activities at local primary schools) to name just a few. All Service activities take place after the school day ends at 3pm at UWCSEA and are designed to create a strong involvement in the local community.
It must be noted that UWCSEA students must actively participate in their Service - it is not enough to just show up every week. Students are required to prepare and plan and depending on the Service, groups of students often team up to lead the activity for the week.
As a Grade 11 student at Dover, my Service is Lakeside Reading. When at Lakeside, our main job is to read to younger kids from disadvantaged families. Throughout the reading process, we may ask questions pertaining to the book or vocabulary which the child may not understand. Although we have just started visiting Lakeside, I have enjoyed my experience so far. I was assigned to read with one child, and originally, he seemed quite hesitant with reading, but later on, he expressed his own thoughts, such as asking some questions about the words, and he even asked to change the book because he felt it was too boring! After we changed the book, he seemed significantly more engaged, to the point where he forgot that we were alternating between who reads what page.
Although it may seem as if we’re only reading to children, I have realised through the experience that there are many things that I need to improve. For example, encouraging discussion with a child, working on intonation and modulation and also explaining more complex ideas in simpler terms. It has already become clear to me that Service benefits both the 'giver' and the 'receiver'.