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.
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.
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.
Although our inexperience may show, we were a very enthusiastic group of Christmas carolers last Thursday, during our visit to the children’s ward.
When 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.
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.
Having recently started my own CAS Project, it’s really exciting to hear about what my friends are doing, and how they’ve approached it.
A project that a majority of our senior class is excited about being involved in is a Bollywood dance routine, organized by Amit and Ariana, for our school talent show, ‘Gecko Factor’. As our whole class has fond memories of dancing to hindi songs, I think this will be a great way to celebrate our senior class while engaging in a CAS Activity.
Like last year, one of the first conversations we had in music this year was about the gala concert, as we had all been thinking of new performances to showcase. This year, I will be playing the glockenspiel with the concert band, taking part in the opening and closing numbers. I’m really looking forward to this experience as playing with a band is an important musical skill that I would like to develop further. Last year, I played the piano in a string ensemble, allowing me to improve my timing and precision on the instrument. Therefore, I’m glad to have the opportunity to improve these skills on a new instrument. I’m also really excited to be playing the glockenspiel as I really like its timbre and sound.
My goals for the gala concert are..
(a) To develop my musical skills in an instrument other than the piano, like the glockenspiel.
(b) To improve my timing and precision in playing, in order to play as part of a band.
Thursday, the 10th of May, marked our final visit to the hospital this academic year. Due to commitments such as exams, and figuring out service plans for next year, we had our final fun hour with the children this Thursday. Adhering to our goal of providing the children with the childhood and cultural opportunities that they miss due to their battle with cancer, we made the visit centered on the Sri Lankan (Buddhist) festival of Vesak.
Falling on the full moon occurring during May, Vesak is a greatly celebrated holiday in Sri Lanka, which marks the birth of the Buddha in Buddhism. As a child, my favorite part of this holiday was going out at night to see the lanterns adorning the doorsteps of houses and shops alike, making for a spectacular sight in their shiny, brightly colored glory. As a build up to all of this excitement, I used to love making the lanterns for our house with my parents, deciding on the colors I wanted and wondering if we could attach christmas lights to make it glow. This kind of childhood joy and immersion in culture is something that the kids at the hospital whole-heartedly deserved, and so, that is what we delivered to them.
The lantern frames
When we brought the supplies to the hospital and got the kids started on their own lantern, their mothers also soon joined in, and in a matter of minutes, all of us worked together enthusiastically to complete the lanterns. Making lanterns with the kids remind me once again of the joy the activity gave me when I was younger – seeing them running around with the lanterns, and turning them into absorbing toys with their imagination, made me realize that they appreciated this part of our culture in a way that I never could.
Having to leave the hospital knowing that it was going to be my last visit, only made me more determined to come back next year, especially if I can once again work with teachers and students who are so committed to the service and, above all, the kids.