[Reader’s Essay] Oreum – A Service Learning Initiative

David Kelly
Service Learning Coordinator and Department Head – Arts
Branksome Hall Asia

Service learning and service action are most often associated with large-scale, highly visible events and causes related to humanity and the environment. As an international school located in Jeju, since the establishment of Branksome Hall Asia, the school has been involved in many such projects through grade level programs, CASE extracurricular activities, service internships international events and special event days. These activities encourage students to be outward-looking and actively involved in worthwhile causes.

However, for student involvement to be truly meaningful and contribute to student learning, action must go beyond simply “performing” the service. There must be a genuine understanding of need, genuine selflessness, and a personal commitment to the ethic of service. To that end, we introduced a new curriculum at the school this year that encourages students to first perform service in a more intimate and local way. Also partly in response to the limitations caused by Covid-19 restrictions, we have been looking for ways for students to apply the spirit of service to their peers within the school.

the Oreum program pairs a middle school class with one or two middle school advisory classes for activities that bring them together at different times of the school year. The name of the program refers to the many oreum (small hills) that distinguish Jeju’s landscape and the students’ ascent throughout their school years, celebrating how this journey can be mutually enhanced by sharing it with others . The experience of middle school students who have already traversed the lower slopes of their education is invaluable to undergraduates as they take their first steps, and the role of mentor for middle school students is one that provides them with a valuable opportunity. for practical leadership.

Activities are sometimes undertaken at agreed times where the whole school is involved and at other times organized independently between partner classes. Although only in its infancy, the hallways have already echoed with delighted laughter and activity from cooking, trust games, storytelling, sports and music. As the program evolves and expands, it is planned to include academic tutoring, external service activities, parent involvement, and high school student involvement. The specifics of how classes interact are largely determined and organized by students in response to what they discover as needs, reinforcing their understanding of the fundamental requirement of any larger-scale service delivery.

All learning is a journey, with each step needing to be well placed and connected to the next, advancing to the end of the previous one. By identifying the essential components of this process and ensuring that they are grounded, the ethic of service can be established in students’ core beliefs at an early age. It may be small to begin with. Spontaneous acts of kindness. Share a toy or snack. Consider the feelings of others. Listen. These are simple social skills, but they are at the heart of service-learning if it is to become authentic service action.

While large-scale public acts of service related to large-scale issues are most often what we see and associate with service-learning, the key to meeting such large-scale challenges is motivation and commitment. genuine commitment of individuals. Encouraging students to interact with their peers at all age levels breeds empathy, patience, leadership, ambitious thinking, diverse language skills, creativity, and selflessness. By negotiating this Oreum, everyone involved supports and is supported in their ascent, preparing them for the mountains that inevitably await them.

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