British School of Boston Hosts "Action Week"
They cleared litter from the trails of the Boston Nature Center, sorted food at the Greater Boston Food Bank, sang to seniors at Rogerson Community Center, organized a bike drive for "Bikes Not Bombs," raised money for UNICEF's earthquake relief fund, fed animals at the Franklin Park Zoo and MSPCA, and held a free book fair for students at Dorchester's Joseph Lee School.
The citywide community service events were all part of Action Week, a school wide celebration of service, global citizenship and culture. Action Week brought students, staff and parents together to volunteer in the community, raise awareness of the importance of service in the school community, and celebrate the diversity among the student body.
"Service learning is a critical part of any child's education," said BSB teacher Catherine Hughes, who organized Action Week. "It helps develop emotional intelligence by building empathy and also provides students with the opportunity to try something new. The skills learned through community service can be applied to all areas of life and are crucial in the global market our students will be competing in."
Action Week kicked off Monday, February 24, and students spent the rest of the week participating in many community service opportunities throughout Boston and the surrounding towns.
Hughes said the focus for the week was to ensure students not only participated in community service, but reflected on the work they were doing. Volunteering was not meant to be just another field trip, she said, but a meaningful learning experience that challenged each student individually.
"This goes across the whole school from the kindergarteners, who learned about giving to people they don't know, to the middle schoolers who visited a different part of Boston and made connections with people different from themselves," Hughes said.
In the elementary school, students held an "earthquake fair" to raise money for UNICEF, creating games and activities that students paid to play. Another group of students worked to organize a bike drive for the local organization, "Bikes Not Bombs," researching the nonprofit's work and creating signs and other marketing materials for the drive.
In the middle and high school, students traveled throughout the city to make their mark on the community, sharing their experiences at a school assembly on Friday afternoon.
Action Week also served to help students better understand their own community at BSB through the annual "Celebration of Home Countries."
Celebration of Home Countries Day invites parents to visit the school and set up displays representing their home country, sharing photographs, books, traditional clothing, art and other items to teach students and staff about their culture and traditions.
There are more than 78 heritages represented at BSB, from Spain and France to Russia and Japan. Dozens were represented at Celebration of Home Countries Day, where students tried on kimonos, learned how to draw Chinese letters and learned about agriculture and farming in New Zealand, among other activities.
A group of students also presented on their recent trip to Tanzania, where they worked with other students from Nord Anglia Education- the global network of schools of which British School of Boston is a part- to renovate a school and teach local students.
The school hopes to continue its dedication to service and cultural learning going forward, and it's clear that Action Week had a profound impact on students. On Friday, as students shared their experiences while volunteering in Boston, many said they hoped to do more community service work both in and out of school.
"I like doing community service because I am doing something good for my community," one student said. "It feels good to do something good."