Grade 8 Helps The Community While Building Real-World Skills

  • Middle School
Grade 8 Helps The Community While Building Real-World Skills

As adults know, certain skills simply must be learned by doing. And by the time our Grade 8 students finish their integrated language arts and social studies unit, they have done and learned more than they could ever have imagined.

For nearly 15 years, the community at SSIS has supported the Anh Linh Love School, a school that provides education for children of families who struggle to afford local school fees and often lack basic necessities, through several efforts. One such effort is an annual fundraiser run by students.

An Even Greater Impact

The fundraiser for Anh Linh Love School started as a food drive. Eighth graders collected non-perishable items for the Catholic-run school to send home with the 250 students over the summer. As the bond with Anh Linh has grown, so too has the extent and impact of the project. 

“If we could have an even greater impact and provide these students with more, why not try?” says SSIS teacher Brian Benck, who manages the Anh Linh Love School project. 

The donations from this year delivered directly to Anh Linh Love School, have already begun arriving and are having an immediate impact.

Two years ago, students delivered four truckloads of food, furniture, and big-screen TVs. This year, among other things, our generous donors are providing Anh Linh with an industrial microwave and electric bikes.

Learning to Effect Change

The donations result from Grade 8 students’ hard work during an extended study in fundraising, business practices, and professional communications.

In an integrated Language Arts/Social Studies unit, students learn to effect change in their community as they tackle real-life problems, equipped with professional skills and a strong sense of agency.

Partial collection, 2019, when Grade 8 charity organizers could still collect donations at SSIS. Today, this is not possible due to COVID.

Students also work with SSIS Business Manager Phuong Dinh. Ms. Dinh teaches them how monetary donations work, ensuring they understand and can complete the “Event Sponsorship Agreement” independently.

Middle School Principal Molly Burger instructs students in professional communication, writing professional emails, and general business acumen as they realize how valuable it is to have strong language art skills.

Adapting to Real-Life Challenges

Throughout the various lessons tied to the unit, students learn about the socio-economic diversity within the extended community and practice using persuasive language skills, which they will need when asking business owners and companies for contributions. 

Despite all of the preparations, however, it is not possible to prepare students for every situation. Nor is it the goal.

Students' confidence grows, as they grow with the responsibility. (Picture is from April 2021, before Virtual School and new restrictions were enacted).

“This is a great real-life challenge that empowers the students by letting them develop important life skills,” says Mr. Benck. “It takes a lot of courage to take on the role of charity organizer and ask a powerful adult, to whom they have no connection, to donate items. The students figure it out.” 

Growing with Responsibility

Students assume a lot of responsibility taking on the significant role of charity organizers. And although teachers are nearby to lend moral support and advice, the students manage the process, gather evidence, and track down who is in charge of charitable donations at the companies they contact. 

Figuring out who to call at the companies can be a bit of a challenge sometimes. Fortunately, students were able to work together on campus until recently (also, see this story’s cover image).

Just before the fourth COVID wave in Vietnam, and the return to Virtual School for students, Yuki, in Grade 8, shared her experience with the project so far. 

“It can be difficult to know who to contact. We had to find the specific person in the company we chose. Sometimes it is really hard finding them on the website, so we have to call. The hardest part has been to describe everything about the fundraiser and asking for a donation,” she told us.

Adaption is Key

Students were also responsible for receiving and organizing collections in previous years, loading the trucks with the donations, and unloading at Anh Linh Love School. However, due to COVID, several logistical changes have been made, and donations are sent directly to the Anh Linh.

And although our diligent charity organizers are currently in Virtual School, they should be proud of their incredible achievements for this year’s fundraiser.

By putting their professionalism and persuasive communication skills to use, our Grade 8 students have had a meaningful and lasting impact on more than 250 lives. 

Author: Tanya Olander
Communications Officer


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