CSC OCIP, Myanmar
The Service Learning trip was held in Yangon, Myanmar from 31 May to 07 June, led by Ms Ng Shi Shi. Altogether, there were 3 teachers and 32 students who participated in this meaningful journey. The students and teachers visited an orphanage at the fringes of Yangon, with around 2 hours’ drive from the heart of the city, daily from 1st to 5th June. The objective of the trip was to serve (education, interaction and donation), to bring love and to meet the needs of the less privileged children living in the poorer villages of Myanmar. The trip also served to develop the students’ awareness of global issues and deepen their commitment to serve others outside their immediate environment. In addition, the trip aims to inculcate values such as innovation, responsibility, teamwork and accountability by providing opportunities for students to plan and execute activities as a group.
During their stay in the village, students carried out a variety of activities prepared, namely English, hygiene and arts lessons, games and songs.
English lessons were prepared such that the children could could easily understand and relate to them. The lessons involved classroom style teaching using boards with pictures, one to one interaction to better understand their individual strengths and weaknesses, and reading of children’s books. For a more engaging, hands-on lesson, the children were brought around the orphanage to be taught the names of objects around them. The children displayed enthusiasm from learning new words and answering to our questions. They would also eagerly ask the students to read the donated English books to them and the children were taught how to pronounce words that they have never come across with. This allowed the students to realise how fortunate they are to have easy access to educational resources such as books and internet in Singapore, unlike the children who had minimal resources to gain education.
Hygiene lessons were also executed to improve the children’s awareness of proper hygiene practices. Through active and interactive demonstrations by the students, the children learnt how to wash their hands thoroughly according to the proposed steps and also learnt how to brush their teeth. Furthermore, they were taught how to use a nail clipper and those with longer nails received help trimming them. This was because due to unforeseen circumstances, the students realised that majority of the children did not have long nails and was not familiar to the use of nail clippers to trim their nails. The children were mainly fascinated by the use of nail clippers. Even though the nail clippers were used to raise hygiene awareness, it would be dangerous for the children with short nails to use the nail clippers as a form of curiosity. Eventually, the students changed their original plan of giving out the nail clippers to all the children. This taught the students to be flexible in their plannings and to adapt to a change in situations. Furthermore, it allowed the students to realise that even though they may think that simple things like nail clippers are basic necessities, it is not the same for the children due to the difference in living. It teaches the students to appreciate even the simplest things that they have.
Arts and craft lessons were also carried out to teach the children how to make friendship bracelets and origami. Showing them step-by-step instructions of how to make the friendship bracelets and origami, the children quickly picked up the skills of braiding and folding. The children coloured the cartoon characters with their creativity before cutting them out and pasting them onto used toilet rolls and empty plastic bottles.
The students also taught the children some songs and games, through which they greatly bonded with the children and got to know more about their habits and personalities. Nursery rhymes like “Mary had a Little Lamb” were taught. One memorable incident was while singing “The Wheels on the Bus”, the entire group of 30 children formed a long bus with the students and ‘drove’ around the orphanage! Such songs allow the children to apply what they have learnt from the English lessons and practice correct pronunciation of words in the songs while having fun simultaneously.
The children were also introduced to new games such as volleyball, frisbee and basketball. Using the donated balls and frisbees, the students explained the simple rules and techniques of each game. In order to play basketball, the children were introduced to the basketball hoop – and after a failed attempt by the students to create one, the older children gladly took over and constructed a tall and sturdy hoop by themselves. This incident left a huge impact on the students, as they saw first-hand how the locals were not hindered by their limited resources but were able to make the most out of them.
The farewell included teaching the children a dance. It is a simple dance accompanied with a catchy song (Witch Doctor) that caught the children’s attention. This was followed by a treasure hunt, where the students had designed a poster with their own photos and a goodbye message, written in Burmese, and cut them up into segments to form pieces for the treasure hunt. Lastly, the students performed the Dunman Dance for the children. Through bonding between the children and students, these farewell activities had brought lots of joy and laughter to all of them. The day was ended off on a good note with many touching moments.
The students helped with constructing the boy’s dormitory, which involved carrying zinc sheets, bricks and other materials to the construction sites, carrying sand to elevate and level the grounds, hammering nails and sawing wood planks. The duck’s pen project was introduced later during the visit, and the students helped to pave its foundations. The construction projects helped enhance the student’s’ ability to communicate and work together as a group effectively.
The students visited various places of attraction in Yangon for sightseeing and educational purposes. One night after leaving the orphanage, they headed down to the famous Shwedagon Pagoda, considered one of Myanmar’s major attractions. It is the most sacred Buddhist pagoda in Myanmar, housing relics encased with gold and jewels. They also visited The Strand Hotel. Built in 1901, the three storey 5-star hotel remains one of Southeast Asia’s few grand colonial hotels. The British architecture in the lobby and along the hallways was intricate and awe-inspiring. Moreover, there was an art showcase within the hotel which boasted famous paintings which intrigued many students with its authentic flavour and the stories locked in time behind each and every painting. Another visit was to the Giant Reclining Buddha of Yangon, situated in the Chaukhtatgyi temple. Through these visits, the students were able to learn more about Myanmar’s colourful history and cultural heritage.
Reflections from students:
“Throughout the 5 days, I sometimes ask myself, “What if these kids were born in my place?” We saw how bright these kids were. If they could receive high quality education in Singapore, I have no doubt that they would do brilliantly. Then where would I be? Running around barefoot in Myanmar and excited for rare opportunities to learn when foreign biggies come to teach me English? I don’t know. But since things are like this, and that I have everything, then maybe I should put in more effort to make this everything worth giving to me. “
15Y5C45 Kenisha Tanadia Adrian Tan
“2 hour bus rides, the long walk to the orphanage where we passed by many huts, piglets, pigs, chickens, a pile of dung, dogs, then come the cheerful greetings from the children, we experienced this 5 times. Throughout these 5 days, I felt that we were the ones in need of help instead of them. We are so needy, needy for more time, needy for the latest technology, needy for compliments, needy for attention, needy for love…yet we go there thinking we are so much better off than them, act like we are so giving, act like we know more than them, academic wise maybe, but mentally, we look like kids around them. They redefined fun, redefined learning; redefined love and most importantly, they redefined my perspective to life. Their thinking is so simple and simple is good.”
15Y5C32 Dawn Yeo Chen Xin