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

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 – Spreading Our Wings (Completed CAS Project)

 spread your wings (idiom): to use your abilities for the first time in your life to do new and exciting things

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Read this post beforehand for some context. Below, all the research we did to conduct the CAS project has been hyperlinked. 

Our service is a brand new service, so we had a lot of ideas and plans in mind. The one that we decided to tackle first was to make a mural in the garage of the transitional center, to make the place truly ours, but also to welcome the girls. It took around 3 weeks to complete after prior planning  (LO3) and I am so proud of the outcome and the level of commitment that each member of the service displayed in making the mural come to life (LO4), which will be shown in this blog post.

Making a mural was something completely new to us as a group and although we, as leaders, had some experience with making a mural, we had never worked on it together with a larger group of people and on a much larger wall (LO2). For example, we knew using stencils would be more efficient time-wise so while planning, so we brought up this idea during the planning process, and it benefitted us because we both had experience with stencils (LO1).

We found it important that our mural had some meaning and thought. We wanted to express the significance of the global issue (LO6) of how the sexual abuse survivors can move forward in their daily lives and transition back into society as well.

The first step we took was to come up with a design. We found a picture on Pinterest which uses magazine cutouts in the shape of bird silhouettes (below on the right) and used it as inspiration for our own design (below on the left).

We incorporated the same silhouettes but instead, I decided to use pastel colors because they have a calming effect and because they are reminiscent of spring, which is a time of rebirth. I thought the birds were also a great idea because they are often symbolic of discovery and freedom.

Kaavya, from Emerge, also said the mural could be a backdrop for when they take graduation pictures who will stay at the residential transitional center. They only stay at the center for 3 months before they leave and ‘graduate’. In a similar vein, the birds flying upwards is a reflection of how the girls will graduate and leave the ‘nest’ that is the transitional center onto even more ambitious things!

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a fresh start – manually painting the walls white

We painted the wall from yellow to white because when yellow is overused, it can “have a disturbing effect”. 

We also wanted to include a quote, but we had to be mindful that it would be inspirational and not insensitive (LO7). Ariana found a good quote which we decided to use because it was meaningful in the context of what they’ve been through: “No matter how hard the past, you can always begin again”.  

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Hardworking service leaders!

We ran into a problem where we tried to paint the patterns from my initial mock up design, but they didn’t turn out as nicely or as harmonious as we would’ve liked. The patterns clashed with each other too much. In the end, after suggestions from all our different members of the service, we just used solid colors that still stood out against the white wall (LO5).

I’m very proud of the service group as a whole for cooperating and committing themselves to finishing the mural. The process took many visits over many weeks and maintaining our interest was quite difficult but we pulled through in the end (LO4). It taught me how important it is to communicate even when we ran into problems (the patterns) and also allowed us to grow closer as a group. I can’t wait for the girls at the center to see it and hopefully like it as much as we do!

Thank you so much Ms. Johnson for all the supplies, Ms. Dahlan and Ms. Kuruppu for your support.

DP2 IB CAS Goals

Creativity
This year I decided to focus all my attention to Yearbook, especially as I step up to the position of Yearbook editor-in-chief this year! Yearbook has always been a joint effort between a team of students to plan and create one final product that embodies the whole school year. I already familiarized myself with graphic design and I feel confident using the program, Adobe InDesign. The Yearbook team this year is even smaller, which is both a disadvantage and benefit. The communication and discussions will be more organized, but it means everyone must have a good chunk of pages to make by certain deadlines. I am responsible to make sure this happens.

I need to maintain my commitment from last year. On top of that, I would like to develop my leadership skills and ability to teach others the skills I know. Last year’s seniors were great role models for me-they demonstrated the willingness to give feedback and collaborate. I also would like to work on incorporating variety, while still following a unique theme, into the design of the yearbook.

Activity

In the beginning  of this year, I am going to do Body Conditioning because my fitness is definitely a big area for growth… I also enjoyed Yoga last year, so I might continue this within the next block of after school activities. Yoga helped me balance out my priorities mentally and physically, even though honestly it was a challenge for me to be patient. 

This year is my last chance to commit myself to Badminton and truly improve! I’ve been making small steps in improvement since Grade 10. Before I lacked a lot of determination, but now I know I definitely have a lot more determination when I have less on my plate than I did last year. This time, my badminton will not coincide with my other activities such as MUN. This did not allow me to play to my fullest capacity with only half an hour to play instead of a full hour. It also coincided with scuba sessions. My biggest goal for badminton or activity this year is to improve my skills, rather than to attempt to make it into the SAISA team. I have already thought of different ways I could tackle this and plan and initiate my progress into becoming a more competitive badminton player. My dad plays badminton regularly with his colleagues, so I will also dedicate this semester before badminton season, to practice new skills on the court. 

Service
In cooperation with the organization Emerge Global, Ariana and I are now leaders of a brand new service group, Girls for Girls. The service aims to raise awareness but also develop a relationship with young girls who are survivors of sexual abuse. Starting a new service is always a challenging task. Ariana and I are well aware of the obstacles in organization and communication issues because of Prison Outreach last year. However! We hope that this service will engage our community in a dialogue about the rights of sexual abuse survivors and women’s empowerment. We have already been planning many different activities; some are creative, some are activity/action, some have to do with business and IT skills! We will be consistently communicating with representatives of Emerge throughout the year. The organization has also opened up a transition home recently and they were enthusiastic about us helping them prepare the home and volunteer to teach skills to girls who are ready to reintegrate back into society. Ariana and I are working towards creating a strong foundation for the service in order for it to continue for years to come.

I know I might face some challenges emotionally. Honestly, I had doubts about how I, someone who has never experienced such hardships like having the courage to go to court or to cope with trauma, would communicate with them. I realized that should not stop me from engaging myself in this issue of global importance. I have so much to learn from them, and through the activities we have planned they will learn so much from us too. Nevertheless, I have optimism that I can build a strong relationship with the girls at the shelter and make a lasting impact. 

End of DP1 Reflection

This year, there were many activities that I dedicated to myself to in terms of CAS, and I learned so much from my experiences, regardless of how difficult some of them were. CAS successfully allowed me to consider how to become a balanced student, even pushing me to try new activities that I never thought I would enjoy so thoroughly. Below is my reflection in all areas of CAS with reference to specific Learning Outcomes.

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