Developing a global mindset is essential in producing well-rounded students, as our world becomes ever more connected. Travel is a key part of developing this mindset, and Learning Outside the Classroom (LOtC) has been shown to improve academic achievement, improved relationships and personal development. Independent schools continue to lead by example.
Five students from ACS International Schools have recently returned from a once-in-a-lifetime experience, visiting India on a unique journalism internship.
The project, now entering its sixteenth year, is sponsored by ACS International Schools Foundation and Orbis, a global sight-saving charity working to improve access to eye services by training local eye care teams in developing countries.
The five students visited a range of eye care services, from the H V Desai Hospital in Pune, to a school eye care screening in the hills of Panchgani. They also visited a school for blind students and watched as 150 people had their bandages removed following cataract surgery – patients from just one morning’s surgery list. India has one of the highest blindness rates in the world; eight million people are entirely blind, of which 320,000 are children.
ACS Hillingdon student, Hana Dowidar, was impressed by the work ethic and passion of hospital staff. He commented: “This week has been one of the greatest of my life. From the moment we first walked into H V Desai Eye Hospital, I was blown away by everyone and everything I saw, simply because every person working there was working with a gleam of utter determination and passion in their eyes.
“Overall, coming to India and seeing such inspiring work being done has made a great impact on me as an individual”.
During the internship, students posted regular blogs, photos and social media updates and this year, for the first time, Orbis UK tasked the students with producing a short narrative film to educate young people
Struck by the enthusiasm and compassionate nature of the Indian students, ACS Cobham student, Ruthie Glauber, commented: “We were lucky enough to meet and interview some of the younger students; their enthusiasm towards learning and their kindness towards one another were genuine and a true exemplification of their community.
This trip has proved transformational for a great number of our young people – they are not only giving but receiving so much, too – Nick Seward
“The experience has been incredible. I have concluded that vision, no matter the extent of ability, is a commodity more valuable than any other, thus the urgency of Orbis’s mission.”
The students were awarded their places on the trip following a rigorous application process. This involved a written submission and an interview with a panel of six representatives from ACS International Schools, ACS International Schools Foundation and Orbis UK.
Kathryn Sweet, Head of Corporate Partnerships at Orbis UK, commented: “ACS International Schools has partnered with Orbis UK for the 16th year to provide its students with a fantastic opportunity to see the world differently. Five outstanding candidates were selected for their ability to connect with our work and capture engaging stories, photos and videos which will educate others on their experience. They did a fantastic job and threw themselves into the task at hand.
“Orbis is extremely grateful for this partnership with ACS, as its support is even greater than their generous financial donation, which now exceeds £400,000, as its students continue to enthuse countless others to join the fight against avoidable blindness.”
Ten sixth form pupils at Kingham Hill School in Oxfordshire travelled to Zambia for two weeks over the summer holidays, volunteering with charity Life Support. Based in Chingola, the pupils supported the work of Eden Farm, a children’s village that provides a safe home environment for orphaned and vulnerable children.
Whilst staying on site at Eden Farm, the pupils helped to paint and decorate a new chapel as well as immersing themselves into the local communities of Kapisha and Kabundi. The team also helped teach at the local school and ran youth church sessions.
As well as helping the community, the team of pupils developed their own skills in communication, leadership and compassion. The school has been visiting the farm since 2011 contributing over £14,000 to Life Support and the Eden Farm project. Before departing for Zambia this year the team planned and lead a huge range of fundraising activities, including selling Valentine’s roses, a Secret Garden Fashion Show and a pop-up shop in Chipping Norton. The activities raised over £4,000 for Life Support and Eden Farm, which will make a real difference to the children and local community of Chingola.
Headmaster, Nick Seward, said of the trip: ‘Nothing broadens the mind like travel, and no more so when pupils are experiencing at first hand the struggles and joys of a very different culture in a place like Eden Farm. We are explicit at KHS in promoting global-mindedness, and this trip has proved transformational for a great number of our young people – they are not only giving but receiving so much, too”.
DID YOU KNOW?
Schools, colleges and youth organisations can order a collective (or group) passport for a single trip to certain European countries. It costs £39 and applications can take up to six weeks to process.
You can have between five and 50 children on a group passport. If there are more than 50 in the group, you can split the group and apply for two or more passports.
Everyone on the passport must be a British national and under 18 by the end of the trip.
A group leader must be named on the passport. The passport is invalid if the group leader can’t travel, but if a deputy leader is named on the application, they can take over.
The group leader and deputy leader must:
- be aged 21 or over
- be a British citizen and have a British passport
- be a UK resident
Find out more at www.gov.uk/collective-group-passports/overview