GCD: Community Engagement (Library Council)

In February, there was the library councils first meeting with other councils from other schools. We went to British School in Tokyo and shared what we do for the library and got to socialize with students from other schools. Library Council has been a very important club that I love and joined in tenth grade. The main goal of the Library Council is to promote reading within the community and to have the Libary be the core of the school. We think that reading is a very important thing to promote because it enhances learning and empathy which leads to more open minds and that is very important in being a good person in the future. Although it is a small scale promotion within the community I believe it to still be an important one since reading is very healthy within education. Since I have been a member of this club for some time I have seen that Library council has grown into a much larger group and has begun to push reading further. The first council meeting we held was evidence of that. At the meeting, we discussed further ways to promote reading within our schools and we came up with creative ways such as book battle events (as shown in the image). Every year our club creates posters and gives out bookmarks with book advertisements so that the students get motivated to read. Coupled with that we have events such as book battles where people get to participate in competitions and such with their knowledge of a book. This motivates students to read more which is good for the community.
Another thing that helps my YIS community is book shelving. In order for the library to be useful to students when studying books need to be in the correct places for students to find them. I think that this small act contributes greatly to the community. Shelving books is a pretty tedious activity but is very worth it since without shelving the books in the correct place it would be almost impossible to find the book you need. I think that it is valuable to have this responsibility since it helps me remember that small actions such as shelving books can contribute largely in a community and that no small act should go unnoticed. This has (as far as I know) positively affected the students within the community since students that I know rarely have problems finding books since they are in the correct place.

GCD: Inter-cultural Communication – Phuket

In the ninth grade, I went to Phuket for my expedition. The main goal for the trip was to interact with the Thai orphans and try to help their school and daily life a little bit better by donating clothing, toys, school supplies and also playing with them. It was a very interesting and new experience for me to go to another country and do service like this. At first, it was hard to communicate with the Thai orphans since they spoke no English and I did not speak Thai. In preparation for going to Phuket we learned a few phrases/greetings in Thai so that it would be easier to communicate with them but otherwise, most communication was through hand gesture. I learned through this trip that a common greeting – hello, good morning and such in Thai is “Sawasdee Ka ” for females. Sadly greetings did not help very much to communicate and so as I said hand gestures and using props helped the most. For example, when we played with the orphans in the gym to explain how to play the games we would have to point at the equipment and play out the actions so that they would understand.

Through this experience, I realized how much impact small hand gestures have on everyday conversation. When I don’t think about it I don’t even recognize that gestures help me understand what people are trying to communicate but through this experience where I had to communicate with only the small knowledge of Thai I had and my hand gestures really made me realize that. After experiencing this I think that in my daily life I have become more considerate of how I express myself while communicating with my friends and teacher etc.

Other than the gifts and games, I think that our visit was valuable to the orphans because their daily lives are usually in a routine with very slim chances of meeting and interacting with people from different cultures. I think that making sure they do not think of themselves badly and they know that they are valued by others outside of their circle is important to know also. To ensure that the children felt comfortable around me, I made sure to keep a kind face and be patient with them.

GCD: ARC- Global Understanding

I would say that I have always been passionate about abolishing animal cruelty and so finally joining Animal Reflief Club (ARC) was a good decision for myself. ARC reminds me about all of the horrible unethical practices that go into cosmetic industries and the food industry towards animals and so stops me from purchasing certain products occasionally. I was a vegetarian before joining the club but it has further motivated me to take action to help animals in need to my best ability. In ARC currently, we are trying to raise money for a Trap Neuter Release (TNR) program for the stray cats within our school area. This project made me realize that I had been very focused on trying to help animals such as cows and pigs since I had done wide research on the food industry, that I forgot about pet/domesticated animals. I think that since animals (excluding us) do not have the privilege of speaking up for themselves and so it is important to use the power that we have to prevent unethical practices from taking place and take care of animals. I learn a lot about the different economic value placed upon animals such as the Pangolin which are hunted down for medicinal purposes and the unneeded unethical testing on animals within cosmetic industries. I think that Humans have been killing animals and using our power irresponsibly to the extent that it is very unsustainable for the future.

ARC teaming up with the sustainability group to sell DIY cruelty-free lip scrubs to fund our TNR program.
Creating the DIY lip scrubs


GCD: Library Lockin — Leadership

Every year for Library Council we host a library lock-in where children (usually middle schoolers) stay overnight in the library. It is usually themed. This year it was themed Alice in Wonderland and the whole event was based around that.  Last year library council consisted of 4 people and so we would try very hard to stay organized but this year there were many new people who had joined. At first, I thought that this would be helpful because there were more people to help out but I was wrong. As I was an older member of the council I took on a leadership role and it proved very difficult with so many people in the council and the children at the event. I learned that it was very important to be vigilant/ observant so that you know whats going right or wrong so you can prioritize your attention.

Our latest lock-in with the Alice in wonderland theme had many activities such as cupcake decorating, arts and crafts and kahoot a kahoot quiz. All of this required leadership skill to organize especially with younger children who were very hyper it proved difficult. I had to move tables around and split children into groups to get activities going and the most important thing to do I learned was to listen and communicate with the guests. Seeing what sort of activities they enjoyed more helped me make decisions. It also helps me now to plan better events that suit the wants of our demographic. Listening to the children was also fun and let me create friendships and bonds with younger grades. This was one of the most memorable and important leadership roles I had to take.

GCD: Wellness Yoga

I have been doing yoga ever since I got into high school and I think it has been of the best decisions I have ever made connected to school. In the beginning, I was hesitant because I thought there would be a lot of people there who would judge me over the mistakes I might make since I was a newbie. But when I got to the class it was really relaxed and because the room was dark and everyone was very cooperative.

The most important thing I learn in yoga class every time is to listen to your body. The body tries its best to let you know what it wants and it is important to listen to that. For example, if you are crouched over your computer for hours, your shoulders start to get heavy and so it is important to take a break and stretch. It definitely makes a difference in my mood.

A significant thing I feel after every yoga class is my difference in stress levels. I usually go into yoga class with high stress levels due to homework/tests but after doing light stretches and sun cycles + Shavasana (a corpse pose to end the session with) I feel much less stress and I feel as though my mind is reset and more optimistic. This is because Yoga is a practice where we try to not think about outside obstacles or negative thoughts during it and so it gives me time to relax and distract myself. After yoga sessions, I can return to my work with a clearer mind and I tend to work faster and better because the stress is minimized. 

This image explains the benefits of meditation and as you can see it is good for reducing feelings of anxiety, increases blood flow etc. As I am a very anxious and nervous person taking the time out of the week to reduce that feeling really helps motivate me and calms me down so I can keep a clearer head when doing school work. From this yoga class, I have begun incorporating yoga moves especially the sun cycle into my everyday morning routine to start of the day feeling energized.

Overall I am very glad I joined and I am proud that I have stuck with it since freshman year.