02 Aug, 2013
10 : 00
As a teacher, there are times in your career when a student, or students, truly demonstrate to you why you chose the career you are in. I would like to tell you about such an occasion.
It all started about a year ago, when I learnt that Hector Aranda Garcia, a ten-year-old, Year 5 student at our school (Century Park Campus), had written a chapter book, with the intention of donating all of the proceeds of his sales to charity. In his mom’s own words, “It was Hector's wish, from the beginning of the project, to do something meaningful for disadvantaged children. When Hector was at a hospital in Singapore, he fell in love with the infants who had a cleft lip and palate. Hector has always been passionate about drawing, reading, and has been getting better at telling very detailed stories. It was from these passions that he felt confident enough to say, ‘I want to do something good for those babies, and I will do what I can do best. I will tell an entertaining and funny story by writing a book. I will also have my drawings be part of the book. We can sell my book and give the money to the babies.’ Hector had heard of Shanghai Healing Home and the wonderful work this facility does for infants who struggle with the same physical difficulties as those infants he saw in Singapore. It is because of this connection of compassion that Hector made the decision to donate the profit from his book to Shanghai Healing Home.”
My first reaction was…“Wow, this is amazing!” As Hector’s mother described the story he had written and the pictures he had drawn, I asked when her son was thinking of printing his novel, and so “The Book Project” was born.
When I approached YCIS Shanghai Year 12 student, Naomi Schanen, who had chosen to complete her 2012 compulsory IGCSE Personal Project assignment by writing a novel, to discuss Hector’s wish to be a printed author, she jumped at the chance to help! Naomi is no stranger to the hours of determined effort it takes to publish a personal novel. For her Year 10 Personal Project she, too, had a desire to tell a captivating story through the creation of a novel, entitled The Poem, and to donate the profits to a local charity.
I’m sure you’ve heard the expression, “Great minds think alike,” but, I must admit, I normally reserve this adage for the older members of our society. I need to remember to stop and realise how appropriate it can also be for the young adults in our midst.
During the time these two students worked together, I witnessed a truly selfless, collaborative venture between two youths of different ages, participating in two separate educational divisions, coming from two unrelated cultural backgrounds, speaking English as an additional language (different from either of their mother tongues), and yet completing an enormous feat with an amazing amount of teamwork and spirit. As the adult who listened and offered subtle suggestions along the way, it was truly an honour and joy to witness the creative energy and enthusiasm these two young people poured into the completion of this task.
Hector and Naomi seem to take their unbelievable accomplishment in stride, but Mrs Garcia sums up beautifully what I believe is at the heart of the project, “As parents, we wish and hope that Hector and Naomi's book project will serve as an inspiration for other children to do whatever it is in their ability to do, to help less fortunate children. I believe that children can always make a difference and set an example for others to follow, which I truly feel Naomi and Hector have done.”
May I just add, from purely a teacher’s perspective, if you support a child to follow a dream and foster their talents to complement that desire, they will not only succeed, they will inspire you.
Since completing the book project, and with an aim to further raise awareness for the charity, Hector completed a book signing tour, that took him to YCIS community events such as Global Child Day and the Century Park Summer Concert, before taking a break for the summer holiday. Check back in with YCIS in the fall to see where this young author will be next, and be sure to keep an eye out for his future writing!
Contributed by Mrs Linda Hartree, Primary Learning Support Teacher, YCIS Shanghai Century Park Campus