Going Overseas - Befriending our Global Partners and Regional Neighbours

International Service-Learning Expedition (ISLE) and Regional Service-Learning Expedition (RSLE) is an educational and experiential pedagogy that brings students beyond the shores of Singapore into new worlds. It is one that overthrows entrenched assumptions, stereotypes and preconceived notions of self, but most importantly, it exposes the students to service and learning beyond the Singapore classroom. As cultures collide, individuals are challenged to re-examine their personal values and beliefs in order to better appreciate Singapore and the world around them. In addition, it also certainly encourages young people not only to serve out of their comfort zones, but also to witness the opportunity to befriend and aid a community with real needs.

RSLE allows our students to aid various communities, and students are in turn enriched by this reciprocal relationship that has been carefully nurtured through service, humility and respect for communities so different from our own. Indeed, ISLE is a powerful tool that values the process more than the outcomes and we, the Service-Learning Committee of NYJC believe that Service-Learning is all about the meaningful service and a transformative lifestyle that must be embraced passionately.

Past Projects Ideas
Service Objectives:
• To cultivate compassion and develop a keen sense of empathy towards others among our students
• To develop an awareness of the social, cultural and economic differences between host country and Singapore
• To develop an awareness of diversity and facilitate cross cultural learning within host country and/between Singapore, through the teaching of conversational English
• To construct an IT corner (e.g. Yuksam, Sikkim, India), border fences (e.g.  a 90m fence for the Bulak National High School, Cebu, Phillipines), build classrooms and fix ceilings and window and biogas tanks(e.g. MaChang Village, Dali, Yunnan Province, China
• To hold mass feeding sessions for under-privileged students in host country (e.g. Wat Trach Primary School)
• To Interact, share and learn with/from local students about varying global culture (e.g. ACODO Orphanage and Sunrise Children’s Village, Vietnam)
• To partner with Khangchendzonga Conservation Committee (KCC), Yuksam, Sikkim, India and work on an Environmental Awareness project (e.g. set up signage, label tree and plant species, and pick up litter along the trek)
• To set up and restore the library and refurbish exterior/interior classroom walls and staff rooms via mural painting (e.g. Ting Ting Primary School, Yuksam, Sikkim, India)
• To teach the English Language (e.g. Mingying Village Primary School, China), design and run an English camp for students (grade 3 & 5, MaChang Primary School, China and Hill Tribe primary schools, Chiang Rai, Thailand) and to design, plan and run an “English Amazing Race” (e.g. Lijiang Educational College)

Service Destinations:
• Bintan, Indonesia (2013 &2014)
• Yuksam, Sikkim, India (2006, 2010, 2012 & 2013)
• Cebu, Philippines  & Siem Reap, Cambodia (2011)
• Dali, Yunnan Province, China (2008, 2009 & 2010)
• Chiang Rai, Thailand (2006, 2007, 2008 & 2009)
• Li Jiang, Yunnan Province, China (2005)
• Kumbalangi, Cochin, Kerala  & Xiamen China (2004)
• Bac Ha, Vietnam (2012)
• Battambang, Cambodia (2014)

Student Reflections 
Vivienne Tong of Team ELLE, Sikkim, India remarked, “For me, this 20-day trip was an eye-opener as I was able to see the world from a different perspective and also one that allowed me to better understand my strengths and weaknesses. Through this trip, I learned to appreciate the different culture and environment over in Sikkim. The trip has made me realize that we often take things for granted and only when we are deprived of them would we then realize their importance. What impacted me the most was how friendly and helpful the locals were. Also, the warmth and hospitality of the people touched me. The best example of this would have to be how the hotel staff welcomed us and stayed up late just for us even when we arrived around 3 hours late due to the traffic congestion. It was really heart-warming to know that they had waited to welcome us. Next was the trekking experience. I think that the trekking experience was what improved me the most and the one that pushed me out of my comfort zone. It’s also the one which gave me the most contentment. The toughest part of this trek had to be the last stretch up to the peak of the Goecha La view point one. It was that period of time that tested my perseverance and pushed me beyond my own limits. As I’m someone who would give up easily, I was really elated when I reached the peak without giving up. I think that this was the point that really improved me.”

Ong Jian Jie, also another member of Team ELLE, Sikkim, India states “I realized the international service-learning expedition to Sikkim, India was a year-long journey rather than just a 20-day expedition to the mountains. Even before the trip, I learnt much about myself and about working with people. Due to the fact that I was given the role of the team leader, I had the chance to work with teachers and also working with a team of friends. The role of leader was not as easy as I thought. I had to juggle between being nice and being strict. I realized that being a leader is also lonely sometimes. The decisions and struggles that I have sometimes are difficult to share with people who are not in my position. Working with people was not an easy thing to do as well. Everyone has different opinions, different backgrounds, different moral standards, such that conflicts and disagreements are bound to arise. Sometimes I will be caught in a dilemma as to which side to support. However, I think it is through some of these conflicts that the bond between friends is strengthened. It was also during the trip that precious memories were made and lessons were learnt. The most valuable memory will be the stars across the velvety night sky. The stars were really countless and all I could do was to stare in awe. Thus, the trip really was an experience ‘to die for, and to live for.’ Outdoor learning should really be implemented in our education system. Where students just go out camping, do service-learning and even trekking. Indeed, the discovery of oneself, physically, mentally and emotionally, can never be done solely in a classroom.”

Lim Zhi Yong from Team Altius, RSLE Bintan reiterates, “The children over at the orphanage have much less than what we have here in Singapore but they are having as much, if not more fun than us. We gave them a simple inflatable beach ball and they can play with it for hours!” While we worried about wet weather plans and lack of indoor space, the children climbed trees and ran in the rain, picking up balls that fell in a puddle and continued to play without a care. They danced enthusiastically to our mass dance song, “Rasa Sayang” and not only did they participate in our origami session, they even taught us how to fold a paper flower.”
A A A Change font size