How I Spent My Summer Vacation: Volunteering with Alkaid

How I Spent My Summer Vacation: Volunteering with Alkaid
How I Spent My Summer Vacation: Volunteering with Alkaid

The BCIS mission is to challenge and empower students to be compassionate and inspired people, who act for the good of all and for the sustainable development of the world.

With the summer's arrival, there are numerous options for students to choose from to spend this most precious time. Some of the most appealing include spending countless hours in front of a screen and traveling to faraway lands for adventure. It is natural that children might not want to do anything academically after a school's year worth of studying. However, one of the more productive and inspiring choices available is to go out and do volunteer work. We are proud to share with you the amazing journey some of our students have taken to become teachers themselves and inspire younger children for a special and meaningful summer holiday.

Our story commences in a little village located in Gansu province. According to Shuting Yang, a Grade 11 student that participated in this year's summer camp, a BCIS alumni named Lynn Rong, whose family hails from the area (and grandparents still reside there), decided she wanted to give back to the community by doing something worthy for the less fortunate children there. Along with fellow BCIS alumni Tiffany Liu, Lynn decided to volunteer at an elementary school in the area and teach English and Math to the students. With the assistance of Lynn's mother, the two young women began their teaching journey. Gradually, what started out as a small scale project more than six years ago now includes more than 30 volunteer teachers that teach a wide variety of subjects (including Physics, Chemistry, Chinese, and Science) to nearly 500 students ranging from Grades 3 to 8. By spreading the message through word of mouth, more and more volunteers have begun to offer their services for a great cause. Indeed, under the name of "Alkaid," this small group has become an official non-profit education organization that truly lives up to its motto of, "Education for Everyone." Indeed, they have now even expanded to online classes. For the many students arriving from various international school universities that are involved, the project has also become a tradition to gather together with like-minded souls in this little village for three weeks and show great compassion for the youth in the rural area, offering these children a glimmer of hope for the better education they deserve, all for free.

Kevin Wang, another Grade 11 student, also took part in this year's camp. In fact, he has attended the summer program since its second year. One of the reasons for this is his mother and Lynn's mother (founding member) have been friends and colleagues since the students were small. Kevin's mother, being touched by all the wonderful deeds done by the volunteer teachers and everyone involved in the project, has even donated the funds to build a modern dormitory for the teachers to reside in. Both Shuting and Kevin quickly add though, many parents have lent a hand to make this organization a success. Costs to run such an operation are high, so their donations to make it work are essential. With this great support, the student volunteers are able to solely focus on properly teaching the young children various subjects. This involves designing and creating curriculums from scratch (all grade levels have separate WeChat group accounts to discuss ideas and decide upon the final content to be taught, which must be approved by Lynn herself), scheduling the lessons, and so forth starting in May each year. Interestingly, the volunteers have also expanded their efforts to online classes in order for their students to keep on learning on their own after the summer program finishes.

It is important to mention behind all the fun learning that takes place, there are various challenges and obstacles the volunteers face. With nearly 500 youth from various nearby villages taking part in the program, there are usually around 50 to 60 students in each class, making it a bit tricky for such the high school and university volunteers to properly teach. In addition, since the school is located in a remote location in the countryside, many of the teachers accustomed to the comforts of their homes (mainly modern technology) find it difficult at first to adjust. However, after creating that special bond with their students, most teachers realize the valuable, once-in-a-lifetime experience they receive teaching these children, who don't have many opportunities for a higher quality of education. Not only do the volunteers teach, but they also learn from the youth there. Since they possess teaching roles while working in this program, the volunteers learn how to better interact with people in general. They also learn the important lesson of how they themselves should act and behave as students once they return home again. According to Kevin, he mentioned, "As a teacher at this camp, I know what my students should do to make me happy. For example, if students are talking in class and disturbing others, I don't feel really happy. So I don't do that at BCIS. I bring my experience back to school and make sure I am a better student for my teachers."

It is always a great honor to learn how BCIS students continue to live the mission, whether inside or outside of school. The members of Alkaid have certainly created a special entity with their great efforts and acts of kindness. The ways they have shown selflessness and compassion are inspiring to all. We look forward to hearing more about their endeavors and sharing them with our community and beyond.

For those interested in getting involved with the program or learning more about it, please visit https://www.alkaidedu.org/.