What do you get when you have thirty-six Grade 11 students, sixteen massive boxes, forty pieces of luggage, and four high school teachers, all about to hop on a flight in a developing country?
Well, let’s just say that it’s pretty crazy.
Once a year, my entire school participates in a service week.
There are many things that I could say about service week, some of which I have said before after participating in the previous year’s service week with last year’s Grade 8 students.
However, instead of spending two days in the local kampungs, this year I traveled with all of the Grade 11 students to Bali, Indonesia. We broke our large group into three smaller groups, and my herd of 14 went to an orphanage for girls between the ages of 13 and 22. For seven hours a day, we would scrub, mop, craft and play with the girls of this particular orphanage.
I have mentioned this before, but the students who attend my school are all very privileged. The nationals who attend the school are typically from families that are politically connected or have parents who own very successful businesses. Many companies offer their expat employees packages that include nice housing, cars, and education stipends that cover the expensive cost of the school where I am employed, which allows even expat students, who would normally live more “normal” middle class existences in their home countries, the privilege of a lifestyle of upper class convinience.
Taking students like this to a place where they are exposed to the harsher side of life is always a mixed experience. Students are pushed out of their comfort zone at moments they didn’t expect.
Over the next few days, I am going to post a short series of posts contrasting my students’ experiences of privilege and service, giving you a glance into the life of my favourite group of sixteen-year-olds.