15 Apr, 2022
10 : 00
We would like to express our sincere thanks to our parent community and faculty for their ongoing support, patience, and understanding as we navigate the challenges of tightened lockdown and quarantine controlled areas. We have all been affected in some way, and the resilience that people have shown is nothing short of remarkable.
At YCIS Shanghai, our mission is to raise globally competent and compassionate leaders with a servant’s heart, who aspire to and act for, a better world. Recently, the selfless acts of charity from our faculty, parents, and students warrant celebration and reflection within our community.
We were ecstatic to see hear of YCIS students in Pudong and Puxi volunteering in their communities, acting as translators for their foreign neighbours who do not speak Chinese, and distributing or sharing food supplies. YCIS Puxi Primary Year 6 student Bronwyn, one of the many YCIS students helping out, told us her neighbour community administrator asked Bronwyn to volunteer after hearing of her bilingualism. “The community leader said that I would be helpful to the committee, that they could use more support with foreign families in the compound. My family encouraged me to be brave and supported me in my decision to volunteer”, says Bronwyn. “The other volunteers were kind and made me feel welcomed. At YCIS we learn about being kind and helpful to our friends, family, and the wider community. I could practice these values while helping my community through the pandemic.”
YCIS Pudong and Puxi leadership teams mobilised to put together study packs consisting of notebooks, pencils, pens, and other materials to support at-home study. Care packages were delivered to over 500 faculty members and all students from the five YCIS Shanghai campuses. The boxes included masks, hand sanitiser, and disinfection wipes to ensure our community stays protected, fresh produce and meat to relieve stress from ordering online, and a box of cookies with personalised notes to show appreciation to our teachers and staff.
Both our international and Chinese staff have been incredibly adaptable to the restrictions and accommodating to the needs of our students and neighbourhood communities. We got word of several teachers and parents volunteering in their apartment compounds. We even recognised one teacher on the local news! For a more profound insight into their experiences, we e-interviewed some YCIS teachers and parents:
Mr Marc Lawrence, YCIS Pudong Head of Character Education and Life Skills
Why did you decide to volunteer?
After a few days of lockdown, I noticed that our building leader and her husband were very busy completing all deliveries and I felt the need to over my services to support their efforts in any way they would like.
In what ways do you hope your children or students can help in the future with a strong foundation of values?
With a strong character foundation, our students will have the capacity to act for and aspire to make a difference. In our current situation, for example, simple acts that place the needs of others in front of their own are a great help. Being on time for e-Learning classes, keeping the house tidy, and sending an email or message to check in on a friend can have an immeasurable impact on our community. These acts not only ensure that we overcome the circumstances that confront us together but that we are all stronger for the experience.
What is the most memorable moment you had while volunteering during the lockdown?
At my height of 6”2’, the delivery cart used for transportation of goods was not built for me. So, to complete the jobs I had to be creative and fold myself into and out of the driver's seat. Whilst I may have been a little slower, I still managed to complete the tasks and make a few people smile along the way.
Ms Jin Wei, YCIS Puxi Year 4 Chinese Teacher
How did you volunteer during the most recent lockdown?
My role consisted of two main functions: distributing antigens test kits to the residents and assisting the medical staff during the nucleic acid testing. In addition, I also volunteered to help the elderly operate Apps we are all familiar with and translate for the neighbours who did not read Chinese.
Did you have any doubts or reservations?
Not really. The volunteering period happened to be our Spring Break, so I had more free time and enough energy to commit. I am a naturally enthusiastic and positive person, so I was happy to sign up without hesitation as the community needed manpower.
What was the most memorable moment you had when volunteering?
On one of the days where we administered the nucleic acid tests, in line was an elderly man and a child who shared the same birth date. One neighbour was 100 years old and the baby was only one week old, but they both had their nucleic acid done in the company of their families. I felt quite emotional watching this scene.
Do the students know that you have been volunteering recently?
I uploaded a picture of me volunteering on Seesaw, and some students saw it and asked me enthusiastically, "are you tired?" and "is it hot?". In this week's class, I shared this experience with the children. More specifically, explaining why I volunteered in the first place and how they can make a difference, such as building confidence with encouraging words to their neighbours.
Ms Kelly Lyons, YCIS Pudong Year 5 Co-teacher
Why did you decide to volunteer?
We have been so well looked after within our community with WeChat groups and others reaching out to make sure we had enough food, water, and other essentials that I wanted to do something to thank them. It also allows me to get out and exercise while delivering packages, which is important for my mental health and physical wellbeing.
What volunteer role did you play during lockdown?
I have distributed food, parcels, and antigen tests throughout the community. I think it is important to demonstrate that everyone can play a part in supporting each other during this time. You don’t have to be physically out there, it is just as important to check in on each other and show support through words.
How do you feel now?
I feel accepted in the neighbourhood community. As the school and government have been sending groceries, I had accumulated many carrots, so I wanted to be a kind neighbour and share with people in my compound. I placed some vegetables outside my door to be shared and detailed the vegetables in our WeChat group. The neighbour who picked up the vegetables mentioned that the package included carrots and wanted to know if I had made a mistake and wanted them back. I joked that I omitted listing carrots on purpose as I knew that no one would accept the donation if they knew it included carrots since our neighbours have been receiving many already. They are starting to enjoy and understand my humour!
Ms Hui Xu, YCIS Puxi Year 6 and Year 8 Parent
What volunteer role did you play?
When the community was first closed, my job was to assist with the nucleic acid tests. For example, helping neighbours log in to Health Cloud, generate QR codes, and answer their questions. Actually, I need to thank YCIS Shanghai because I used the bilingual nucleic acid test set-up guide sent to all parents in almost all the neighbours. It helped me be efficient when explaining to foreigners and the elderly.
The second time I volunteered for the nucleic acid testing, the situation in Shanghai had become a bit more stressful and I had to wear a hazmat suit to protect myself. Now I can no longer volunteer downstairs because there is a positive case in my building, but I am still in about eight community WeChat groups answering questions, giving guidance, sending notices, and dispelling rumours.
How did you tell the children about your experience as a volunteer? What do they think?
Since I am a member of the Parent Organisation Puxi (POP), they were not surprised to see me volunteering in the community this time, and thought it was something they were used to.
In the future, how will you teach your children about the virtues of "giving and giving back" and other values?
I will teach my children to care for and help others as much as they can, and I will also tell them that they do not ask for anything in return. Doing something in itself brings a lot of joy and a sense of accomplishment.
Ms Vivian Wu, YCIS Pudong Year 7 Parent
Why did you become a volunteer?
Initially, I noticed there were a lot of neighbours who felt anxious, especially foreign neighbours, and I wanted to do my part to help alleviate some of those worries.
What volunteer role did you play?
Several YCIS Pudong moms and I live in the same area, so we all decided to work together and help in different ways. We had to track how many residents were in our communities, organise nucleic acid tests, and distribute supplies. We also helped direct residents and guide them while waiting at the nucleic acid site. Another parent took the initiative to set up an English language WeChat group to help foreign families in the neighbourhood order groceries after noticing that some expatriate neighbours had trouble shopping. In the same neighbourhood compound, one of my child’s classmate's mother helped a handful of people in that same group with refunds from online shops that could not deliver to anyone. These may seem simple to locals living in shanghai, but for those who do not speak Mandarin, it may cause anxiety.
Once again we are very grateful to have such a caring, positive and supportive community within our school. We hope our students can look to their teachers, parents, and peers during difficult times and serve as role models to bring positive change in and out of the YCIS community. We will without a doubt come out of this current situation in ways that continue to consolidate and build on our strengths as a school here in Shanghai.