The Federation of British International Schools in Asia.

Community Service

FOBISSEA Community Conference 2011
hosted by the British International School, HCMC

The 201 1 FOBISSEA Community Conference opened on Friday 11th March with eleven presentations from each of the participating schools following a ‘Welcome’ from HOC Richard Vaughan and a fabulous tour of the BIS primary and secondary campuses by the student council. Delegates spent the morning getting fired up, inspired and enthused through the project share session. It gave a fantastic insight into the great range of opportunities offered by FOBISSEA schools to its student population.
 
Friday afternoon found BIS students giving their perspectives on the importance of community service within education, leading into discussions on how to best to support st udents in creating balance between CAS and BISCAT models and ways in which to promote the uptake of service within their schools.
 
With strategies complete delegates jumped on a bus and ventured into the further reaches of HCMC to visit the long standing local community partner Thien Phuoc Home for Disabled Children . BIS students led the visit starting with an explanation of the relationship between the school and the home and their involvement followed by a prepared tour and an afternoon party with cake and balloons for the children in the home.
 
The tasty conference dinner was hosted by Mr Hung at Sesame Restaurant, a hospitality school formed by an association of the People’s Party Committee of HCMC and Rhone-Alpes. This school teaches professions of food service, cooking and Eurasian baking to teenagers with difficult circumstances such as street children, community children, children living in social care, orphan villages of open houses. http://www.lonelyplanet.com/vietnam/ho-chi-minh-city/restaurants/vietnamese/sesame
 
The second day kicked off with Paul Crouch (The Regent’s School, Pattaya) initiating the production of the FOBISSEA Community Guidebook resulting in the setting up of an online resource of best practice documents and guidelines for all schools to ensure efficient running of value added and sustainable projects.
 
The Primary campus gym doors were opened at 10am to reveal a hive of activity in the form of the Community Fair 2011. Over 50 organisations presented their stalls of information, displays, many sold wares for fundraising, others using the opportunity to network and gather volunteers or potential sponsors to support their activities within the community. The presence of a huge number of charitable organizations was notable.
 
The fun of the fair led nicely into a presentation by Son of LIN Centre, an organization with the objective to support small NPO and NGOs and give them the right tools for promoting and financing themselves – very much a liken to the work of a teacher giving the tools to students to take initiative and ownership of their service work.
 
Lunch in the form of French baguettes, crepes, salads and patisseries created by the street children of Poussieres de Vie (www.poussieresdevie.org) filled everyone up ready for an afternoon spent with the children of the Love School.
 
At the Love School we were met by Ms Nhung, Head Nun. Ms Mai (Head of Vietnamese, BIS) translated an opening speech by Ms Nhung explaining that the school is so called because it is a place of ‘Love’ supporting children that cannot attend regular school, instead forced to support their families by selling flowers and chewing gum on the streets of HCMC throughout the night. She asked two of the 30 students present to tell of their life experiences, hopes and dreams. One child offered a song, games were played and a big chocolate cake shared.
 
The conference closed at 3.30pm on Saturday 12th March with time to evaluate the events of the weekend followed by an enlightening trip into the slum home of one of the children of the Love School. This left delegates feeling even more motivated and inspired in their mission to create a range of opportunities for students to realize the value of Community Service.