SJAB Yunnan, China
From 27 May 2012 to 7 June 2012, the Dunman High School St. John Ambulance Brigade organized an Overseas Service Learning to Yunnan, China, sending a team 34 students with 4 Teachers. We constructed a community toilet for the locals living in Dzomu Gu, Ringha Valley, Shangri-La, and interacted with the students of Ringha Community Nursery.
With the aims of increasing an understanding of and appreciation for the indigenous Tibetan culture of the community living in Ringha Valley, and coupled with the desire to gain a sense of service learning, the team started work on the construction of the community toilet. With guidance from a local engineer and assistance from some villagers, the team tried their hands at laborious tasks like mixing of cement, carrying and laying of bricks, building the septic tank and digging through solid earth to lay the piping for the community toilet. All the hard work paid off with its successful completion.
We also shared our knowledge of basic first aid with the villagers. The session was a fruitful one with the villagers being all ears to the sharing and which also saw meaningful interaction where we got to know more about their way of life.
The climax of the trip was Cultural Night, where many villagers and us came together to sing and dance. The night ended on a high note with speeches by our teacher-in-charge and a representative of the village chief. Tokens of appreciation were exchanged as a symbol of heartfelt gratitude.
This Overseas Service Learning has enhanced the students’ appreciation for a foreign culture, and unleashed the global citizen who takes an active part in bettering the lives of others, in each of them.
The following is what some of the students had to say about their experiences:
“This Overseas Service Learning was a fulfilling experience for all of us. We’ve learned so much from the people there. Seeing the Tibetans easily contented, even when they have so little, I feel that we should be more appreciative in life, especially since we are blessed with many things. Also, it was a new experience to build a toilet from scratch; although it was tiring, it was really enjoyable. The biggest takeaway from this trip was the friendship that we forged, with the Tibetans and amongst ourselves. It was heartwarming to see everyone taking care of each other and it made me feel at home while we were away from home in Singapore. It was definitely a fruitful 12 days spent there! “
12Y3C Yu Yuwen Geena
“Participating in this Overseas Service Learning allowed all of us to see the world from a different perspective, literally and figuratively. Saying that mountains and valleys were a common sight would be an understatement – they were practically at our doorstep, constantly reminding us of how far we were from home. As if bringing ourselves away from something huge would make it seem smaller, our worries back home shrunk while we were there. This allowed us to focus on the many things we could learn. The hunger for learning is surely something that all of us took away. It was evident that many, if not all the villagers had an innate eagerness to acquire knowledge. While the villagers that came for our first aid session had already learnt some of the skills we were teaching, yet still, ever so enthusiastically did they participate. And, the children at the nursery took great pride in brushing their teeth after having learnt the correct techniques. My recollections of the people there made me question our own attitudes towards learning back home. It is time we give deep and serious thought to the value we accord education in our lives.”
12Y5C42 Sim Jia Yi