Antwerp International School and its students serve their community.
Harshvi was going a bit too fast for her pupils to memorize everything she was teaching them, so she had to tell herself to ease up and be more patient. But it was so exciting that it was not easy to slow down the pace. Fifteen-year-old Antwerp International School (AIS) student Harshvi was teaching two visually impaired students to play the piano and discovering a lot about herself while doing so.
“I really wanted to help people with disabilities and I love playing the piano, so I thought it would be a great challenge to teach two visually impaired children to play,” says Harshvi. “They were really appreciative and I learned a lot from this, including to be more thankful for what I have, and I do think this will help me in my future.”
Embracing the community around them and sharing their time, energy and enthusiasm in local outreach initiatives is part of the heart and soul of Antwerp International School. According to the Head of School, Andreas Koini, with some 35 different nationalities represented from Starter Class to Grade 12, AIS aims to optimize the integration of students and their families from completely different cultural backgrounds. In doing so, the children learn to reach out to and engage with the local community.
“Our entire pedagogical programme is geared toward understanding cultures and reaching out to local communities, through learning the languages, as well as through sports, the arts and events,” says Andreas. Community projects, like the Grade 10 Personal Project that Harshvi was doing as part of the International Baccalaureate (IB) Middle Years Programme, are integrated into the curriculum.
The students choose the topic for their Personal Projects themselves, but it has to involve learning a new skill and include a social or service learning aspect. Community engagement is embedded in the curriculum starting with the PYP Exhibition in Grade 5 and continuing through the Grade 8 MYP Community Project. In Grade 10, in addition to the Personal Project, students are also required to take part in a one-week work experience in the area, which improves their engagement in the local community.
“Our programme is very much based on our ARCH values of Accountability, Respect, Consideration and Honesty, and this is reflected in our community outreach and the civic activities the students do,” says Andreas. “Also, one of the main objectives of the IB programme that we offer is open-mindedness, and that involves exploring the local environment and community.”
In addition, AIS collaborates with local schools throughout the year through events like traffic day, a robotics competition, competitive sports and the arts. They also work with the Refugee Center in Kapellen and the Senior Center next door. “The seniors just love it when the children come to visit the center,” he says. “Grade 8 students volunteer at the Refugee Center, which is an important learning experience for the students and is appreciated by the refugees.”
AIS also opens its sports and arts facilities to the community. Local basketball clubs can train at the gym and local schools can use the theater for their bigger productions. Moreover, AIS invites local schools and the community to its many events and performances throughout the year.
Last week, AIS staged a production of The Wizard of Oz. It is one of five key events being organized to celebrate the school’s 50th anniversary this school year. The golden anniversary celebrations include last September’s Inspiration Day, where local sports, science and arts heroes came to speak to the students, along with local companies. Next will be a circus performance by Primary School students at the end of January, a sixties-themed gala dinner in March, and International Day in May, to highlight the school’s 35 different nationalities.
“We are proud of our 50-year heritage of inspiring successful futures, so please come join us to celebrate,” adds Andreas.
Source: AmCham Newsletter December