End of Year CAS Reflection

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As the end of this academic year nears, looking back at my initial CAS goals, and the eight learning outcomes for CAS, makes me realize how much I have grown and accomplished this year, as well as the ways in which my aspirations changed and veered in new directions.
FullSizeRender-2Looking back on my goals for creativity, it’s encouraging to see that I have achieved my goals, and exceeded my initial expectations. Having reflected on the blog regarding my progress as a piano player, I am satisfied with my success at live performances, and my improvement in pianistic techniques. However, while I am glad that I undertook the challenge of becoming a better pianist and playing for live audiences, it has also led me to identify areas for growth in my learning.Now that I have experience playing live, and have a better understanding of how to cope with mistakes during the heat of the moment, I aim to take a more central and frequent role in these performances next year, as a DP2 musician.

While maintaining my commitment to playing the piano, I am also really grateful 1that I got the opportunity to expand my knowledge of music, by developing new skills as a violinist. As this was a CAS goal made at the beginning of the year, however, I am a little disappointed at how long it took me to organize a teacher and start my lessons, as it left me no time for reflection on the blog. For next year, I plan to take more initiative when pursuing any CAS activity, so that I have time to blog in detail about it, over the course of the semesters.

Screen Shot 2016-02-15 at 8.25.23 PMA large part of my creativity hours, however, came about due to activities and events that I did not plan to be a part of, but felt a personal desire to try. MUN and Bugsy Malone (backstage crew) are two main events that became a spontaneous addition to my CAS blog. With MUN, I demonstrated my perseverance and commitment to an activity that had overwhelmed me the year before. Deciding to participate a second time allowed me to experience the activity in a new light, made more enjoyable by my prior knowledge and new friends. Volunteering for the backstage crew in our school musical, however, was an entirely new challenge for me, one that turned out to be very rewarding. Aside from teaching me new skills, this event showed me what it is like to be part of OSC, and revel in the school spirit.

Looking back on my goals for action, it is apparent that this is the are where myScreen Shot 2016-02-17 at 8.19.56 PM plans for the year changed significantly, taking me in new athletic directions that I had never thought of before. At the beginning of the year, I was eager to try a different form of action – dance. While I was very enthusiastic to learn, however, I did not find a class to my liking. Determined to develop new skills athletically, however, I joined yoga with my friends during the second semester. Rather different from dance, yoga taught me the importance of having a cal mindset and exercising your muscles to remain healthy. It was a very different area of action compared to badminton, the sport that I have been committed to for the past few years. Badminton allowed me to improve my strengths in technical aspects, such as succeeding in a smash shot, and enabled me to compete with friends in an activity I really enjoyed. Despite my athletic achievements, however, I wish I had been able to play sports more competitively, like in SAISA, something I am planning on working towards for next year.

HFKLooking back on my goals for service, I am glad to report that I have committed to “Hope for Kids” the entire year, a feat made very easy by the wonderful kids and dedicated group members. In the presence of my peers, who are so familiar with this cause, and determined to improve it, as well as my supervisors, who care about us as much as the kids at the hospital, it is impossible to see my service as a mere CAS requirement. Hope for Kids has definitely made me want to contribute to other service projects during my own time, which I think would be a good way to develop as a person, outside of CAS requirements.

For next year, I I plan to use all my ideas from the end of this year, as well as any new ideas I may have over the summer, to figure out new CAS goals.

HFK: Final visit

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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.

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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.

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Yoga -The End

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The DP1 Yoga students

Taking part in yoga was a totally new experience for me as all of my previous activities involved a lot of fast movement and quick reflexes – when I played badminton, it was all about being ready to move across the court in a matter of seconds. In yoga, i was challenged as much as I was in any other sport, however, these challenges were presented in very different ways.

Yoga tested my endurance and flexibility – by holding different yoga poses for the recommended amount of time, I improved my muscle strength while also working on my physical and mental tolerance. Another very unique aspect of yoga is its focus on healthy living and a serene mind. To help with this, we learnt different breathing techniques and meditation methods. After an exhaustive hour of stretching and exercises, it was a great way to relax and clear our minds.

Yoga proved to be a very relaxing activity not only because of all the knowledge we gained, but also because of our group atmosphere. The yoga activity this semester was made up of all DP1 students, meaning that we all knew each other very well, and were unafraid to try out new things around each other, and express our feelings.

I am really glad I tried yoga out, as it is a unique experience of an activity. The core values of yoga, such as having a peaceful conscience, and living healthy, are important life lessons that I can take away, and use, in many other aspects of my life.

Bugsy Malone – Curtain Call

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After months of hard work, Bugsy Malone was finally presented to a live audience on the 10th, 11th and 12th of March. As a backstage member (stage left), I wasn’t anticipating on any last minute nerves or butterflies in my stomach, but after all our dedication and commitment, I found it hard not be as invested in the play as the actors.

IMG_5760Through all the nerves and excitement, however, I managed to really enjoy every single performance – by the third performance, everyone backstage knew the words to the songs, and we had fun mouthing the words to all our favorites. By the third performance, I was also beginning to feel confident in the world of theatre and my role as a backstage crew member. To end the musical with flair, the final night had added musical performances and a different stage set up – while I may have felt out of my depth navigating new backstage orders at the start of the play, I now knew the stage and the props, as well as the actors and the directors, well enough, to manage my job easily.

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After the third performance, we celebrated all our hard work with cupcakes, laughter and congratulations. Although theatre is not a passion of mine, getting to know how it works, and getting to share in the joy of my friends, made it an invaluable experience.

 

 

 

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I never would have appreciated this musical the way I do if I hadn’t watched it come together from backstage – being involved in theatre will truly change my experience as an audience member from now on.

 

Hope For Kids – Food and Fun Fair

Screen Shot 2016-03-01 at 3.34.16 PMIn my previous service posts, I talked about making jewelry with the kids that we intended to sell in order to raise funds. Having decided that the best time to do this would be at the Food and Fun Fair in April, as many of the students and parents would be present, we realized we needed more items to sell along with the jewelry.

 

Therefore, in our following group meetings (when we were not visiting the hospital), we have been getting together to create arts and crafts for our stall in April.

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At one session, we made dream catchers using feathers and beads – this was a great way to express my creativity while also planning ahead to improve on our service projects.

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Apart from dream catchers, we also made batik handkerchiefs and headbands – this was my favorite of the arts and crafts as I had never done this before and I found the technique to be fun and interesting. Another think I liked about batiking was the fact that you never knew how the pattern would turn out until after you had applied all the colors and unfolded your creation. It is an even greater feeling to know that our hard work will help the kids at the cancer hospital and allow them to have a better quality of life.

Whilst taking on these arts and crafts projects, we have also been maintaining our visits to the hospital. During our last visit, we made more jewelry with the kids as they really seemed to enjoy it last time. I also talked more with one of the older girls at the hospital who seemed to really want new books to read – a passion we both seem to share. In our next Hope For Kids meeting, I plan on bringing this up in order to give the slightly older kids something to enjoy as well.

Colombo Model United Nations 2016

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GA3 Delegation

The 19th-21st of February marked the commencement of the Colombo Model United Nations 2016. After months of research and practice debates, it was time to wear our most official clothes and start debating.

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As a part of the 3rd general Assembly, we heatedly debated on our assigned topic for the first 2 days:

 

 

 

  Dissecting transitional justice to recognize its implications, with special regards to social development”

The first 2 days were intense and our debating was polished by the 3 practice debates, however, in a way, I felt more in my element than during those first few practices because I was much more at ease with my fellow delegates and with my country, Belarus.

Debating on a topic so relavant to the current world allowed me to gain critical insight into issues, such as the post conflict states in the Middle East, and enabled me to project feasible solutions for some of these issues. I thought this was a great advantage of MUN, at a time where conflicts seem endless and unresolvable.

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OSC Delegation with our Chair (far left)

Looking at world issues such as Iraq and the KRG seeking independence, solutions seems far out of the reach when even comprehending the entire conflict is a difficult feat. MUN takes a unique approach to these situations – breaking crucial parts of the conflict into different discussions through moderated and unmoderated caucuses. For me, and hopefully for many others, this enables me to look at conflicts in an analytical way and search for solutions. I think MUN is a great way for students to get involved in global issues instead of feeling lost when they’re brought up.

Screen Shot 2016-03-01 at 10.44.03 AMDebating for hours on end about political issues for a long weekend can get somewhat daunting. This made my friends and fellow delegates and amazing support system during this whole event – the fun we had debating, an the jokes we made out of committee made the experience a unforgettable memory to to look back on with my friends.

 

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Day 3 – In our national costumes at Cinnamon Lakeside

The third day of conference was by far the most eventful and the grandest.Upon meeting up at the Cinnamon Lakeside hotel in our national costumes, all 3 General Assemblies merged to debate upon a simulated crisis. we were all seated with the other delegates of our country, where we would offer solutions for the crisis as a joint delegation. as there were no other delegates of Belarus, I was the only one in my delegation.

Our crisis started off with a crack in the Mosul dam in Iraq and quickly escalated to a massive break down which killed thousands of people. Our job as delegates, was to come up with directives – immediate short term solutions – to mitigate the crisis. I felt that this really showcased our knowledge on issues of global importance and improved our critical thinking and ability to quickly brainstorm solutions. Furthermore, the many discussion times we had during the conference also improved our ability to collaborate with others, especially in times of crisis, when effective teamwork is crucial.

My time working towards the COMUN conference, as well as the actual conference itself, has allowed me to make friends from different schools all over Colombo and learn how to collaborate with them and think critically as the youth of this country. The knowledge and experience I gained throughout this journey is truly invaluable.

For more information on COMUN and a new perspective on the global issues discussed, visit:

http://content.educationtimes.lk/print-edition-1/7236-22-years-of-comun-by-osc

http://www.osc.lk/comun/

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Tea at Cinnamon Lakeside

 

Yoga

With the badminton season ending in January, I found myself in need of another activity. This semester, deciding to do something new, I signed up for yoga. Having never really done yoga, or an activity similar to it, I was interested to see how I would perform.

After attending two sessions, I now have a clear understanding of what yoga entails and the skills it is allowing me to strengthen. Unlike badminton, yoga focuses more on improving the function of my body as a whole in order to live a healthier life. Our instructor often gives us tips on correct breathing patterns and sleeping position in order to improve the function of our body, something important to which I had not given much thought. In addition to these types of exercises, we have also been doing activities to help improve muscle strength, such as many different types of stretches.

Screen Shot 2016-02-17 at 8.19.56 PMAnother prominent facet of yoga is meditation. These past few weeks, we have been learning the correct pose for meditation, which involves the thumb and index fingers of your hand being connected. As explained by our instructor, this is to bring the nerve endings at the tips of our fingers closer together and improve the effectiveness of meditation. Meditation is a nice way to end our yoga sessions as it helps relax both your mind and your body.

As has been demonstrated in the past few weeks, yoga is proving to be an educational and enlightening activity. It is a very interesting activity to be involved in after badminton, as it pushes my body in a way that is very different to the aforementioned sport.

My main objectives for yoga are:

(a) to improve my breathing technique

(b) to practice more muscle-related exercises in order to develop my enduuarance