HFK: Rations Drive

The Sri Lankan New Year, which falls on the 14th of April, is all about getting together with your family, receiving presents, and eating good food. In the spirit of this holiday, Hope For Kids held its annual rations drive at school, so that we could celebrate the new year at the hospital with deserving families. This was a great way to end my time as a leader of the service, as it let me really see the impact of my work over the past two years.

In order to get the rations drive under way, we started planning for it at the beginning of March, assigning a particular good to each grade. We decided on these items depending on necessity and the average diet of a Sri Lankan family. In order to motivate our classmates, we promised a pizza party to the grade that brought in the most rations, although we also stressed the importance and joy of helping others in our community.

After collecting these rations for a month, it was time to go from classroom to classroom, gathering and counting the food that was brought in. There was some heavy lifting involved, with some members of the service carrying 25 Kg of rice down two flights of stairs, but this just meant that our school had come through – we had enough and more rations to give out.

Our last service day before our half term break, we loaded all the rations into an extra van, along with a shopping cart that some people speculated was borrowed rom a local grocery store. At the hospital, we each took turns knocking on the rooms doors, and giving each family a bag of rations, and wishing them a happy Sri Lankan New Year. The best part for me was having rations left over, and being able to give these to the guards and cleaning staff we see around the hospital each time we visit.

This was a great way to directly experience the impact we make in our community and realize we are doing something worthwhile, so it was a great note to end service on for me.

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Back to Yoga

Now that the badminton season is over, I decided to continue with yoga, so that I could keep on working on my goals for this activity, which I set earlier on this year.

Starting yoga again reminded me again how different this activity was from ones such as badminton, which is what I’m used to. While strategy and coordination are a big part of badminton, yoga focuses more on endurance. I never really knew how long 30 seconds were, before I had to hold the ‘downward dog’ pose for that amount of time!

However, since I’m familiar with the basic positions now, I can focus more on holding them and pushing myself to try more complex poses. Something that really helps me push through is seeing my friends try the poses themselves, and competing with them to see who can achieve it the fastest – of course, Miss Morse, our instructor, always lets us know that we should focus more on our body, and whether we feel it can handle the kind of exertion of a particular exercise.

As painful as it sometimes is as I try to keep up with all the different exercises, I always end up feeling relaxed and refreshed after each session. With exams and deadlines approaching, this is a great way to relieve stress and stay positive, which makes this activity a great way to end my action this semester.

Gecko Factor 2017

Every year, Gecko Factor brings to life the entertaining and unique talents of our student body, allowing us to see our friends in a whole new way.

This year, our class’s love of Bollywood music and dancing resulted in a group of us planning and initiating a dance for the talent show. During lunch, after school and during the weekends, 10 of the senior students could be found dancing, and in my case, occasionally losing balance.

Ariana and Amit were our main choreographers, but we were all equally invested in the group, singling out the competition during the auditions, and urging all our other classmates to watch us (and be amazed!) To add to the element of surprise, we started of dancing to ‘Cheap Thrills’ by Sia, and transitioning into Badtameez Dil by Benny Dayal.

Despite having never taken part in a talent show before, I was not too nervous before the performance, mostly because I would be dancing with my friends, and all our awesome ‘Dance Crew’ pictures we took backstage distracted me.

We had challenges to overcome, even while on stage in the spotlight – due to a initial version of our dance track being played instead of the final, we had a few seconds of improvisation in the middle, which I think we handled well. Our competitive spirits were also rewarded when we won third place. We ended the day with more awesome group pictures and splitting the third place brownie price.

Service: Creative Fundraising

For the second semester of Hope For Kids, we had some creative ideas for fund raising that really met our target of challenging ourselves while helping our community. With our school talent show, Gecko Factor, soon approaching, we set to work making tie-dye bandanas to sell to the willing members of the audience.

Having tried tie-dye last year, we knew that using acrylic paint and hanging them up to dry sometimes resulted in faded colors, and the dye dripping down the cloth. This time, we came prepared, and used batik paint instead. Figuring out new ways to fold the cloth to get designs was my favorite part, and the reveal, in my opinion, deserved a drum roll. Of course, all of us soon forgot about the gloves we were supposed to wear and walked out with our hand stained purple and orange, but we also had 20 bandanas ready to be sold in a few weeks!

Despite a large part of the funds we use coming from our saving from the previous years, I also think it’s really important to challenge ourselves to raise money in innovative ways that add to our school community while also raising awareness to our cause. Hopefully, we are well on our way to achieving this!

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The Final Product

Yearbook 101

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As the year goes on and I have more and more Yearbook pages to work on, I’m realizing the sheer amount of effort and skills that go into making a page. If I were to advise someone now on how to make a great yearbook page, this is what I would say:

1. Borders and Spacing

When you’re making a great Yearbook page, this may be the last thing you want to think about, but I have realized how important it is. You should always use the alignment tools to get the spacing right, which is something I’m working on with all my pages

2. Print out a sample page

It’s really important to make sure you are working with CMYK colors and not RGB colors, and this is something you can make sure of by printing a draft page. It’s better to realize the red you used actually shows up as brown on paper while you’re still working things out, as opposed to when you’re getting your page signed.

Picture size is also something you might change your mind about when you see how big or small it actually is on paper, so its a good idea to get a feel for how big pictures are on the paper versus the screen.

3. Layout the pages as it would be on the Yearbook

After designing great pages, the last thing you want to discover is that the pages that go next to each other don’t mesh at all. So when designing single pages, its always better to design the left and right pages together in one document.

4. Show it to more experienced Yearbook members

For me, this really helped because they usually spotted a lot of technical aspects (like the spacing) that I hadn’t thought of. Also, whenever you can’t get a picture exactly the right size, or in exactly the right position, they are always there to tell you you’ll get the hang of it!

Gala Concert 2016

The Gala Concert 2016 was undoubtedly the best way to end the first semester of school.

Having participated in the Gala Concert last year, I was excited to try something new this year. As I mentioned in my previous post about the gala, this year I was practicing to play the glockenspiel in our concert band. Looking back at the concert, I know all those practises were worth it.

Thinking back on concert band rehearsals, all I remember are the good times we had, joking, learning from each other and getting excited when we finally perfected a piece, but I know there were some frustrating moments as well. The band dynamic was still fairly new to me, and it was a little different from playing in an ensemble last year – I really had to stay focused so that I didn’t miss my cue or stray off tempo. Also, while the glockenspiel was an easy instrument to get adjusted to, I was still the most comfortable at a piano. These were both reasons that made me love the pieces we were performing – once they were stuck in my head, my timing and tempo were much easier to get right. In the end, these challenges helped me feel more confident in my role as a musician.

The Gala Concert was one of those events that truly made me feel like an IB music student.

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How You Should Celebrate Christmas

Although our inexperience may show, we were a very enthusiastic group of Christmas carolers last Thursday, during our visit to the children’s ward.

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img_6625When our bus left OSC, on the way to the Maharagama hospital, it was filled with christmas spirit, complete with a tree, santa costume, green and red balloons, and a plethora of shiny presents. While our Christmas caroling at the ward was rather spontaneous, all the other details were planned meticulously in advance, right down to the color coded gifts according to age. We wanted to make this celebration as meaningful as possible, and that meant maximizing our time and resources.In fact, this year, Santa visited the children, as well as the parents at the ward – after all, they deserve to feel appreciated as well. A Christmas celebration with the children is something our service does every year, but that doesn’t mean we don’t put new thought and effort into the plans.

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Next to cake and chasing their balloons around the room, decorating the Christmas tree was the most popular activity of the evening. The tree was constantly surrounded by small feet, and tugged at my multiple hands – it was exactly what Christmas should be like.