Thursday, March 6, 2014

Is this the end?

CAS Final Reflection

Dear CAS,

We're approaching the end of a journey. A journey that almost lasted two years, IB. The 18 months of CAS are ending now. I've come a long way since the beginning of DP1, but the road doesn't end here. I've reached another road that would take me through a new adventure.

The last 18 months of CAS were definitely the most tiring yet the most rewarding. Rewarding, not in terms of winning a prize but rather self-rewarding. Through achieving each of the eight learning outcomes I've gained both knowledge and many experiences I didn't think I would gain if it wasn't for CAS.

First, I'll start off with my long-term projects, which were volunteering at Little Light Children's Center and organizing the Prom for our senior students. Both activities lasted more than two terms and were very challenging each in its own way. Taking on the role of the teacher was never something I was overly enthusiastic about, and it's not because I'm not social, it's because I  don't have the patience to give lengthy explanations. So surely, I've had to overcome that, if I wanted to get along with the students. At the end, managing my impatience was easier than I anticipated. I might have grown to understand that I cannot expect my students to know and comprehend something that they don't know or struggle with right away, especially because they don't have the privilege of quality education. On the other hand, Prom was probably one of the most nerve racking activities I ever got to experience. Being able to meet deadlines, arranging meetings, fundraising money for venue, food, and decoration, advertising, distributing tickets and collecting money. All of this under time pressure. Here I learned a very valuable lesson - do what you can do today rather then pushing it to tomorrow.

Apart from my long-term projects, I also did a few activities that usually lasted for one school term. I've learned East African Dance, how to play guitar (well just the basics), cooking, volleyball, zumba, how to solve world problems in MUN and how to paint ceilings (refer back to Wobulenzi trip). I also increased my own strengths in both art and long distance running and I got involved in a school drama production and made props for a play for the first time. The service activities I've done allowed me to be more concerned about my community and the global issues it's currently facing. I've been very dedicated to all my activities and I've tried a variety of them and balance them out.

I believe many students fear facing new challenges and learning new skills as it requires them to go away from their comfort zone. I've been the complete opposite. I knew learning guitar would be hard and to be honest I'm still not good at it but I kept trying. Even though I auditioned for a speaking role for a school play I got a non-speaking role and ended up learning East African dance. When initiating the zumba lesson to our class, nothing went smoothly in the beginning but we ended up enjoying it. From here I can conclude that every failure, every rejection is frustrating but it can also be a door to a new opportunity. I'm sure that the skills I've learned through CAS will come in handy in the future.

I've grown into a more mature individual not because I'm two years older than when I started but because I became aware of some of the opportunities I'm not exploiting and of my local community, of my local world.

Thank you CAS, you're truly more than just three letters.
Sincerely, Arina

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Cross Country Club!

"...I don't know when we're gonna get to that place
where we really want to go and well walk in the sun,
But till then tramps like us baby we were born to run..."
- Born to Run by Bruce Springsteen

Originally, cross country running is when an individual or a group is/are running for a long distance in open-air usually in nature. Our club on the other hand was carried out on the football field in our school. I've participated in the cross country club both last year and this year as well. The reason why I've joined was because I'm not particularly fond of team sports and so cross country seemed like the perfect sport for me!

I've realized through school events such as Interhouse Athletics and Interhouse Cross Country Race, that I'm better at running long distances than sprinting since I'm better at enduring and pacing myself than running at full speed. 

A lap around the field is approximately 400 meters and usually I can do around 7-8 before I have stop and grab something to drink. Last year I felt that I made more progress than this year as we missed a lot of club days due to our mocks and events falling on the same day. Moreover, with our new school term system it felt that this term was shorter than previous years. I can continue on and on explaining and making excuses why I personally don't feel that I made significant progress but instead I'll write that I didn't complete my personal goal for this year. 

My personal goal was not about the speed but rather my distance. I wanted to beat my personal record from last year which was 10 laps (approx. 4 km) before having to stop and complete 12-13 laps (approx. 5 km). I've noticed how unfit I was when I took on the challenge of participating in a 10 km fun run, and barely managing to run 5km out of the 10. I can conclude from this that this sort of activity requires time outside school to make progress as one hour per week is clearly not enough. For future, when I'll decide on my own fitness program I'll make sure that I have a schedule that would integrate both sports and other responsibilities. 

I must add, that the best part of running is when you're completely focused on your pace and you forget about everything.

Through this activity I've
  • Increased my awareness of my own strengths and areas for growth
  • Show perseverance and commitment in my activities
  • Undertaken new challenges  
Here's some photos from the club! 

More Stretching!

The Cross Country Group of 2014! :D

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

The Final Reflection for Volunteering at Little Light Children Center

Little Light Children's Center is an NGO in one of the most rural areas of Kampala, Uganda, that aims at promoting education for youth and empowering women. Most of the children are orphan from either one side or both and the majority are AIDS carriers. There are also many single mothers that were exploited or abused, husbands abandoned, died of war or AIDS. The living conditions in the slum of Namuwongo are very crowded and unhygienic, without access to running water or electricity. Subsequently, the children don't have many opportunities and are prone to diseases.

The aim of the collaborative project was to help the children (ranging from age 6 to 12) with their school work, such as English and Mathematics as well as spend a Saturday morning per week to simply entertain the kids with various activities and games.

The project started in April 2013 and continued up to March 2014. At first, our project started off with only 2 people but then the number of participants increased during the new academic year. 

Working on the collaborative project was difficult but very enjoyable as well. Organizing lessons were challenging as I was never quite sure how many students will attend (sometimes they were 2 and other times they were a lot more). There were days when they weren't particularly in "studying mood" and kept on chatting and laughing. However, most of the times I must say, they were very keen to learn and carefully did the work assigned to them by us, the tutors. I've noticed since the Wobulenzi CAS trip that students in Uganda are very shy and even though we encourage them to not be afraid to ask for help, they are still very timid about it. "Please tell if there's is something you don't understand" is a sentence I say right after giving a work to my student, but I end up waiting for the student to finish and only after I mark the work I begin to explain the questions or exercises he/she didn't answer correctly. I also don't see myself as a model teacher since I'm very impatient and so I had to restrain myself from getting agitated.

Apart from studying, we also played various games like football and dancing. The children also enjoyed teaching us new games that are very popular amongst the local community. Moreover, the most notable activity that we did in Little Light this year was painting their gate and drawing the the NGO's logo. I remember the first day we went there, and it was virtually impossible to find the place as there was no evidence of a distinct sign or anything of that sort. BUT NOT ANYMORE! :)

Overall, I would conclude my time at Little Light as very enriching and I feel as if I've grown as a person. I didn't necessarily become more mature but rather more aware of the city and the community in which I live. Kampala is very diverse in terms of development, and I know the developed part of it very well but never had an opportunity to experience so closely the poorer and less developed side of it. I was very moved to see that although people might not be as fortunate as I might be, they never lose their joie de vivre.

Thank you for allowing me to be part of the community, Little Light Children's Centre!