Bye bye! (CAS Final Reflection)

As the senior year comes to an end, I would like to reflect on the past two years I’ve dedicated to maintaining a balanced lifestyle by taking the IB. During the first year of IB, I experimented by taking two activities for each CAS component and narrowed it down by the end of that year.

Creativity
➢ COMUN      ➢ Yearbook      ➢ SAISA Art
I feel as though I’ve had the strongest engagement with creativity, I would even incorporate it into service – for example, making a big mural and making posters. Although I began my journey by exploring debate and COMUN for creativity, and to take on an unfamiliar experience and allowed me develop research and speaking skills. Furthermore, COMUN allowed me to engage with issues of global significance directly, especially social and humanitarian issues which interested me.

I didn’t continue onto senior year, mostly because I took on a big commitment to Yearbook, which truly encompassed all learning outcomes from collaborating with other page designers and the community; identifying my strengths and weaknesses in graphic design and how to develop them; and, as editor-in-chief, I also played a big role in planning for the overall yearbook team.

On top of that, I also participated in SAISA Art 2016’s new media workshop. As I continued to make digital art in my free time, this was a good way to extend my experience and take on a new challenge with new resources. Overall, creating a unique piece of artwork during those few days demonstrated my perseverance and ability to experiment with art based upon the theme of justice.

Activity
➢ Scuba Diving      ➢ Yoga      ➢ SAISA Badminton       ➢ Body Conditioning
The two main ways in which I maintained my fitness was through scuba diving and badminton. I achieved a lot during this period, from becoming a certified open water diver in DP1 and making it onto the SAISA badminton team in DP2. Scuba Diving was something completely foreign and therefore a big challenge for me, who definitely wouldn’t consider myself a strong swimmer, but it taught me a lot about being patient with my mistakes and the consequences of my actions, as nowadays we must consider how we treat the ocean and marine life.  Badminton was something I was not very strong in from the beginning, but I am most proud of my progression especially when I didn’t expect to make the team at all. I improved my skills so much during the practice periods and during the actual SAISA, and I would definitely consider it the highlight of my activity activities in CAS. I learned how vital teamwork is in mixed doubles and girls doubles, while growing as a badminton player. 

On the side between these big commitments I also did yoga, body conditioning and fun badminton weekly when these two big activities above were not running, and these can be summarized in their respective posts.

Service
➢ Prison Outreach     ➢ Girls for Girls
Service was also a large part of my CAS experience, as both services were new and posed the same challenges. However, in DP2 when I took up the leadership role in Girls for Girls I definitely developed skills from the previous year such as how to conduct fundraisers and how to engage with global issues – for Prison Outreach, the issue of proper conditions for children living with their imprisoned mothers, and in Girls for Girls, the rehabilitation for young women who have survived sexual abuse. As a founder and leader alongside Ariana for Girls for Girls, this showed my ability to plan and initiate many new activities considering the service AND the Emerge transitional center we were working with were new projects. We communicated as a group often and this was a good example of overcoming previous problems with collaboration, especially because the foundation we worked with were so receptive. I’m most proud that we were able to create a strong foundation for Girls for Girls to continue as a service in the following years through working with all the learning outcomes. 

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Girls for Girls – Graduation & Goodbyes

Our service has planned so much within the span of a few months. Instead of making short individual posts, each of these activities will be succinctly summarized in this one post, as well as my final experience with the service I am proud to hand over leadership and resign from service with Ariana, leaving Girls for Girls in Diana’s capable hands!

Mandalas – Coloring Therapy (March 16th, 2017)
The girls from the center were scheduled for a yoga session at our school. Before this session, we decided to show the girls around our school and of course, have a few snacks and drinks before doing yoga. Eventually, we ended up in the library and we calmly colored for around 30 minutes. They seemed proud of their work and wanted to keep it. I hope that we can continue this in the future because it was a very therapeutic activity that was beneficial for both us and the girls. 

Book Drive – Building a Library (March 23rd, 2017)
This was one of our projects which I was very excited about because it was a good way to raise awareness about our cause and involve others in supporting the girls. I remember during our first meeting with the girls, two girls said that they enjoy reading. This also relates to a local and global issue (LO6) – the difficulty girls have to face to obtain an education. Emerge’s transitional center aims to curb this issue. Therefore, we thought it was vital that they had a small sort of library o the girls can read in their freetime alongside their English classes and other classes.

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Poster credits to Diana – to raise awareness and participation from the OSC community

We had plenty of donations, however not all were appropriate, either in terms of content or English level, but it was a good experience for us to sit down and go through the books and consider these obstacles (LO2). The next step is to get a bookshelf because they do not currently have one, and perhaps invest in more Sinhala books or English-to-Sinhala translated books, accompanied with the English version. It would be good to also curate the bookshelf to have books featuring young female role models. It was hard to do this when most of the books donated were kids’ books.

The Girls’ Graduation (April 6th, 2017)
It broke my heart to see these first batch of girls have to leave the center. This was a totally new experience and we learned so much from each other. Although it might’ve seemed sad for them to leave, the graduation ceremony was filled with positive speeches, dances, singing and even a self-defense demonstration. I realized how much they learned at this center and how valuable it is that we were able to be part of that journey. The whole service, for both Ariana and I, was a demonstration of all the learning outcomes, but most of all we planned and initiated and built this service together (LO3) with a small group of dedicated girls, so I’m extremely proud of what we’ve achieved in only a year. Something like this could only be achieved with pure determination and I know that everyone in the service, including our teacher supervisors Ms. Dahlan and Ms. Kuruppu, truly cares about what we do and why (LO4).  

At the center, we were the first group of young mentors, and they were the first group of mentees. Our whole collaboration with them this year was really themed around the idea of ‘new beginnings’. I’m very glad we were able to share so many memories with them and be a part of their journey.

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OSC Girls for Girls service group in the front row of the graduation ceremony

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Beautiful singing and our murals as a backdrop

~*~Fun~*~ Badminton

Despite exam season, I wanted to keep up my action for this last half of the semester by playing some relaxed badminton every week on Mondays, especially since I learned to truly love playing badminton (both competitively and casually) after SAISA!

It was hard to get a court and play badminton with the correct rules but it was interesting because somehow we managed to squeeze 3 people on a court and play 3vs3 match with some 7th graders. I mostly tried to move a lot and practice playing in the back of the court. One of my missions that session was to teach Sadira how to serve (to no avail) but, this attempt meant that, alongside working on my own skills, I should try to take on the challenge of getting Sadira from a not-so-good badminton player to a sub-par player. Hopefully teaching the little I know will also help me develop my own technique. Next week we should definitely try to play a game with proper rules. After a few more sessions, we were able to play on courts doubles and singles, this significantly helped me develop skills more. I worked on my control although it was a big change to go from several practices a week to only on Mondays for ‘fun’.

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playing singles with my disciple, Sadira

I think the casual environment is a good way to wind down the senior year but still keep up my fitness. On top of this I have been going for walks over the weekends and so I hope this all will help me continue to be a balanced person later on after the IB.  

Color Holi Run – For Charity!

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Celebrating 5k with the squad!

On the 11th of March 2017, my friends and I participated in a charity run for 5km, beginning at Independence Square, for the Rainforest Trust of Sri Lanka. In order to participate, we each sponsored saplings to be planted in the Uda Kirawa forest corridor. This is globally significant as the NGO is focused on saving and protecting Sri Lanka’s rainforests in a time where these rainforests are barely surviving the negative impacts of deforestation and climate change. The organization is also interested in sustainability which is something that everyone should be concerned with, keeping in mind future generations. 

In terms of ethical issues, not only did we have a great morning of exercise in the Sri Lankan tropical weather, we were able to contribute and understand the significance of what the money we raised went to support and become more aware of a local issue, and connect it to a larger global problem.

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refreshments – photo credits to Illuminate Artists

 Overall, it was a great combination between action, service and fun, which truly made Holi even more of a meaningful celebration than it already is! As you can see, the powder colors thrown at us (which were apparently also biodegradable!) really bring life to the streets of Colombo.

Girls for Girls – Food & Fun Fair 2017

Food and Fun Fair took place on March 11th, 2017. It is a perfect opportunity to raise awareness within our school community whilst also engaging in fundraising projects. Both of these advantages were perfect for our service group, considering we only established this year.

1. Holi Fundraiser
We organized Holi, continuing on from our previous service tradition and it was a success. We did run into a few problems with the rain. Although Holi is still celebrated in the rain, we debated whether to go through with it or not. In the end, it was a high anticipated event and we were able come together as a team (LO5) to make it happen. We earned more funds than we did last year and the clean up and maintenance went much more smoothly than it did last year.

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Poster to advertise the event, designed by Diana

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Holi in the primary playground

2. Selling Caps
Unfortunately for us, although we did get the caps in time for the fair, it was raining for the majority of the time and so the demand for the caps decreased. Overall, we sold them for a reasonable price of 600Rs and sold a few, but not nearly enough considering we still had many left over. I think it’s important to see how we took a risk, considering we wanted to sell something other than t-shirts. This experience taught us how to plan and initiate another fundraiser and definitely was a challenge in which new skills were developed (LO2), since selling caps turned out to be evidently more difficult than selling t-shirts.

Update (30/03/17): With the leftover caps, we decided to put up a publicity on our Facebook page and hopefully with more people being seen wearing it, we will be able to sell even more. Perhaps this can be a project carried onto the next year, considering there are more outdoor events at school in the future that these caps could fare well in.

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Yearbook – Quick Updates

We have a lot of exciting features to introduce to the yearbook this year. These past months have been a bit of a struggle – I only had a team of 3 people. Ms. Mora, our teacher supervisor, and I have tried to pull some more people together to make it work out but I see a lot of benefits in a smaller group as well.

Nevertheless, I am so grateful for the 3 other people who decided to join and have dedicated their time to help out with the planning. We were able to establish a clear theme and direction for the yearbook. The new people in yearbook pick up new skills quite easily and communicate with me so the collaborative aspect is going really well.

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My personal interest board to keep track of learning new graphic design skills

Although I am in charge of senior pages, those pages are fairly uniform and not nearly as much fun as designing events pages. As I have done in the past, I always use events pages to develop new skills and to experiment with skills I have learned already from last year. Unlike last year, however, I’m glad I am taking initiative to combine my Photoshop skills with my InDesign skills and work on both programs regularly (whereas I used to just focus on InDesign before). Sometimes, it still baffles me how much you can learn in such little time. For these past few months, I learned many new functions in Photoshop even though I have been using it for 6 years!

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Glimpse of UN Day spread; combining fonts and pictures to make meaningful spreads

Stay tuned for a final update and more eye-catching designs in April, when everything will be finalized for print!

Girls for Girls – Exercise Sessions

Above, you can see what we did for our introductory session where we met a few of the girls we would be working with, for the first time. We used a map to show where each of us was from and shared a cake and other snacks with them while talking. For the past few weeks after introducing ourselves to the girls, we planned two sessions focused on physical activity.

1. Yoga on the Balcony
We planned out this session knowing that the girls had also done their own yoga classes without us, meaning it wasn’t something completely new and hard to follow for them. In the beginning it was led by Alex, Ariana and Diana who did yoga after-school activities in school. I learned a bunch of new yoga things myself, such as the sun salutations sequence.

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Yoga with the girls – led by Alex, Ariana and Diana. Picture credits to Kaavya

Afterwards, each of the girls came up to the front and we copied the yoga move they demonstrated. They had big smiles on their faces and weren’t afraid to take the lead! On top of that, we even created a fruit bowl with ice-cream and sat and talked with the girls downstairs. Overall, it was a good way for us to bond and wind down!

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Creative fruit bowl! Picture credits to Alex/Diana

1. Zumba/Just Dance
This session we brought in tutorials from Just Dance and using the projector in one of the classrooms in the center. I haphazardly tried to follow the moves with my limited dance abilities… nonetheless it was a very exciting session at the center. It helped tons that the songs were interactive – during the last part of the session, we all partnered up with a girl from Emerge and did a duet dance and that was definitely my favorite part of the session. I’m glad the girls enjoyed it and one of them even asked for the videos afterwards to dance on their own!

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