Educational Travel Asia (ETA) is pleased to announce the successful launch of a new workshop series that assists schools and students developing service learning programmes. Our first three-day workshop ran in December for 83 grade 8 students with the collaboration of our friends from the following incredible organisations:
- Crossroads International: A global humanitarian aid organization, Crossroads has been a leader in developing simulations to help build empathy for a better world.
- Friends International: A leading social enterprise saving lives and building futures of the most marginalized children, their families, and their communities.
- English Crazy Club (ECC): ECC is a grass-roots volunteer group, founded by Thai university students who want to give “valuable things” back to their community.
The overall aim of the workshop was to let students experience the challenges of our world. We want to open the students’ hearts and minds, and most importantly provide the tools so they can take effective actions.
Activities included simulations putting the students into the reality of families struggling to survive the hardship of absolute poverty. The group was divided into small ‘family’ units. Each family faced challenges for survival including producing enough income to cover basic food, shelter, health and education. Along the way, they also had to make decisions for their family that would affect the outcome of their survival. The simulation continued with the family needing to migrate for work and the vulnerability that can create. Corruption, injustice, crime and lack of ‘voice’ were just a few of obstacles they had to fight just to survive.
Affecting the heart is only part of the journey. Youth also need tools in order to take action on what they feel passionate about. Throughout the programme, activities also integrated a selection of tools from the DoSomething.org handbook. Students in their family groups also used the Four Corners Tool created by Cathy Berge Kaye to help understand their groups passions, potential issues they may want to take on, how to research the issues and ultimately, what actions they can take.
On the last day, we also met with Friends International to learn about their work with the street children and marginalized families of Bangkok and around the Aranyaphrathet border crossing. More importantly, we explored how students can assist Friends to achieve their mission through the marketing and sales of home-based production goods.
Not all the time was serious and hard work. Through the youth and energy of the English Crazy Club everyone enjoyed team building games and activities. Perhaps the highlight was the performance night when each group got to show their stuff and the teachers stole the show with the chicken dance.
In the end, the experience helped build knowledge, skills and feeling for taking part in effective and meaningful service learning activities.