As outlined in the school’s vision statement, at ISS we strive to “inspire a community of responsible, globally-engaged, empowered learners”, in an attempt to try and help our students make meaningful contributions to the world around them, be that world near or far. Being international school students and staff, we belong to a wide range of communities, and it is the school’s aim to guide our students in their search for positive ways in which to contribute to a more equitable and sustainable world.
As a school, it is our goal to incorporate the different projects and initiatives that may take place into the learning experiences of the students. The idea behind Service Learning is that students contribute to a better world, using the skills and knowledge acquired at school, while at the same time reflecting on the chosen projects and activities. In order to facilitate this, the school has recently created a position for a Service Learning Coordinator.
Throughout the school, a wide range of Service Learning activities is taking place, ranging from visits to the local retirement home, over volunteer work for Fretex, the Red Cross or Amnesty International, to environmental projects such as improving the recycling at and around school, or the planting of trees.
A different form of Service Learning has recently been started up, whereby pre-school and Middle School students visit each other, be it to celebrate Peace Day, participate in the Mannequin Challenge together, or show each other the projects they have worked on in their respective classes. To witness the interaction between 3-4 and 13-14 year olds, shows how easily Service Learning can happen within the school community.
In addition to the volunteer work for existing organisations, and the grassroots project started up at school, as part of the IB curriculum, 11th and 12th graders are expected to pass the CAS (Creativity, Activity and Service) programme, which requires a service commitment to the community (both locally and internationally).
A specific example of a grassroots initiative is the ISS Cameroon Service Project, a Service Learning effort set up by High School students in 2011 in memory of ISS student Stéphane Ngueguim and focused on improving the living conditions and educational opportunities in Stephane’s village in rural Cameroon.
Lately, a lot of Service Learning projects have focused on the refugee situation, both here in Stavanger and abroad. Middle School students have worked hard on raising awareness, reaching out to refugee families (including children), and effectively helping them in their adaptation to life in Norway. At the same time, the students have come up with different ways to raise money and support Norwegian organisation working with and for refugees in Syria and Greece.