Students make a consistent, sustained commitment to serving and developing connections with others.
My significant contribution to my community engagement is through my work as a student council member for my grade. For the past 3 years, I have worked hard outside classroom times to deliver to the students variety of service such as dance events, concerts, and also tackling student concerns. I decided to join student council, after being in Yokohama International School for a year, in my freshmen year, and the motivation behind it was that I wanted to do something useful for such a caring community that helped me settle well when I came to this school for the first time. I also wanted to develop my social skills through this job which helps me interact with not just people I know or close to.
I found myself inspired to do many events since becoming a student council because I thought that it allowed me to give a huge opportunity to do a lot for the students in my community. I first started off by looking at how the upper graders handle events, and the amount of work and planning that was included in the planning process was very astonishing for me.
The first months within the student council, I started off by being part of the planning committees of some events and started to learn about the scrupulousness of the job, and it was challenging at first, knowing that each one of us is in charge for part of the event, and the importance of attaining that job or else it would affect the whole event, not mentioning the responsibility that lies on the person who is overseeing the whole event. At first, I was just in charge of some of the promotion and making sure all the required equipments were there in the auditorium on the day, such process includes, emailing the school to prepare equipments and making announcements.
Outside of this, from the administration then, we were told the importance of the council’s transparency, and that it was vital that we set up new ways in which we can approach this issue. Back then, we had a blog that we used to publish some of the information on their, however, people were not informed and no one, literally no one accessed the website, except for student council members who regularly updated the information monthly.
The President back then told me that it was important to come up with something new, and I commented on making a monthly newspaper. Although at first people were skeptical about the idea, however, the President was behind me so she told me to publish a trial newspaper. It was good to write about and discuss with the council on how we think about our jobs, and actively putting on what is going around school through the newspaper.
YIS Times that I worked on and published:
I think one of the things that I’ve learned from this experience was that it is often very tough to get the message out there, but I think what was important was that before we made this, as a council we just assumed that people wouldn’t care, or it wouldn’t work. A valuable lesson was that before we come up with such a conclusion, it is important that we try it, and throughout the 2015-16 year, we were able to publish almost every month to be printed and put up on each high school tutor room with what we as a council have been doing, and also capturing moments from our school during that month.
My first opportunity for me to oversee a whole event came when we started preparing for Spring Fling Dance 2016. The executives recommended that the lower grades should take in charge of some of the upcoming events, and I volunteered to try and accomplish what I’ve been working towards since I became a student council member.
It was overwhelming at first where the responsibility on all aspects of the event: manpower, resources, equipment, advertisements and finance, all rested upon me. At first I was told by the President to layout all the possible things that I will need to prepare for. Then it was up to me to make this event different than the ones we had before. I looked back at the previous dance and realized that there wasn’t much that we offered as a council, other than the dance floor and the music.
The previous generation liked the music and dancing nonstop, so only a quarter of our auditorium was used and the whole place was used for dancing only. Students had to pay the entrance fee, as well as extra fees for the drinks. Also, the previous dance attended by about 50 people, where it didn’t offer a much more social setting within the venue. I realized that the majority of the people who are likely to come to the dance would be lower grades, so it was important that we target those demographics for the years to come.
I decided to ask what students would expect from a dance, and what will incentivize them go.
- a chill place, where they can sit down and talk
- more food and drinks
- students are less inclined to go if they have to pay a lot
Although compared to other school’s dance, where they will usually pay 1000 yen, students didn’t like the prices of the dance, where they paid 200 yen alone for the entrance. But then I realized that we aren’t purchasing much for the dance, thus most of the money becomes profits. I talked to the then President and told her that it was important to may invest money for such events. Although it was understandable since our student council needs to fund itself, and there are other things that we do where we give away things, but in order to make the dance a little more different, we needed to change how we operate.
Being able to bridge the gap personally to ask what the community wants is much more effective than just anticipating what they might want. It was the first time that really helped me realize that real changes can only happen if you try to understand them. This allowed me to make the event much more appealing to the student council’s target audience, thus making the event more affordable yet making them feel more like they get a lot out of it. I think through this new approach, our student council evolved into a group that puts a strong emphasis on these social events, and we have improved upon it every single time we host a new event.
Planning Document I used in my first event
Although some may say that the student council is just an “event committee”, I do think that the role we play within our community is fitting. Also, considering our comparison with other schools within the same region I’ve noticed that not a lot of school does events frequently like our school. Student council alone in our school hosts more than 10 events a year, whereas the other school’s hosts 2 or 3. But I think the important thing that we as a council showed how we wanted to maintain the student’s well being is through social events and bonding students together through a variety of entertainments. Especially after being in the council for many years now, the work that goes into every single event is thought and planned, to ensure that students have a good time while they are here. I felt really proud to be able to be part of such a team, that can make students smile, even in the midst of exams, and mountains of assessments. From that aspect, I think we are achieving the role of the student council at the fullest.
Some of the later Events I was in charge with:
BTS Dance 2016
BTS Dance 2017
I wanted to find a new way to achieve a more connected student community, and in the growing world of mobile apps, I thought about creating an app that connects people within our school community, by giving the necessary platform to other groups to communicate their message more efficiently.
Links can be found here: www.yisdragons.weebly.com
In 2017, I ran for the presidency of the student council but fell short. I decided to run again in 2018, and I’m very honored to be able to lead a group of amazing people from G9 to 12. More about this is on my leadership GCD Reflection.