While assessing our school this spring, the WASC and ACSI accreditation teams frequently commented on what they called our “Capstone” project. This “Capstone” requirement impressed them, intrigued them. Here at CRICS we just simply call this the Senior Service Projects. Its a part of who we are, not the center jewel in our crown. Every student in every grade participates in service projects every year. So by the time our students are seniors, we ask them to plan and lead a service project of their own design. Its not that it is no big deal, it has just become part of the normal growth process of our students.
But somehow, this year, the whole process caught my attention in a different light. As the mother of a senior, I witnessed first-hand the power of EXPECTING leadership from someone. Young people WILL rise to meet your expectations. If you tell them they can (and that they don’t really have a choice), they will. I saw students push themselves past their areas of comfort. I glimpsed pride in the eyes of weary leaders. I noticed humility in hearts when faced with disappointment. I spotted joy on faces when the work was complete.
As senior year draws to a close for these young people, I see that although they might not all choose carreers the world recognizes as leadership roles, 14 true leaders stand at the door of CRICS ready to change the world.
So, we’re proud and thankful that the accreditation teams recognized the ways CRICS continues to challange our students to stretch themselves and lead through service. Praise God for another great year!
Below, please read summaries, written by each senior, of all of the amazing 2014/2015 Senior Service Projects:
Every year during rainy season, one of the cattle barns in Huay Khom village would flood because the floor was not sloped to allow for proper drainage. As health issues arose in the life of the local Thai farmer, a close friend with Dr. Peter Quesenberry, he was unable to complete the work of leveling the floor and digging ditches himself. On February 20, 2015, I led the CRICS 7th and 8th grade students to help level the floor of the barn and to dig ditches that would allow for proper drainage from the barn and other key locations on the farmer’s property. The student’s on the project exceeded the expectations and were able to do more than originally had been planned for.
For my Senior Project, I led a team of CRICS students in leading worship for a Christian group called Christians Love Chiang Rai. Christians Love Chiang Rai is a group of Thai churches that hosts a 24 hour prayer service. This day was March 6th and my team and I planned to arrive at 8:30 pm to lead worship at 10 pm to 12 am. We targeted the Chiang Rai community so we had planned both English and Thai songs. When we arrived, there was a large group of locals and Thais, but after starting up, the crowd dwindled down to only a couple Thais mixed with a larger group of missionaries who came to worship. As our band abandoned ourselves to worship, the session became a success in leading the Chiang Rai community in wholeheartedly praising God.
For my senior project I planned and led an art camp for around 25 Thai girls. The camp took place on March 14, 2015 at Baan Phak Phing, a home for girls, ages 6-18, rescued from prostitution and sexual abuse. I hoped to show the girls the joy of creativity and also give them some confidence in themselves and what they could do. My team and I taught the girls pottery, jewelry making, drawing and painting. Many of the girls were excited and surprised by the beauty they created.
My senior project was a Valentine’s Day themed party meant to show the maebons (house helpers) how we see and appreciate all their work, as well as love them. It was also meant to be a day where we served them and allowed them to get a break from their everyday workload. By the end of my project I was hoping to build more relationships with the ladies that came, make sure everyone would have a good time, and hopefully have the ladies know that we care about them and their hard work. My project ended up turning out well, and every maebon left with their crafts and a small gift. I was really glad they all came and seemed to have a good time together.
My Senior Project consisted of the teaching of survival skills in the most amusing way possible, while trying to raise self confidence and companionship. I led six students from CRICS to a campsite surrounded by nature and started teaching and practicing to the Thai University students. Activities such as making a fishing rod, gather wood for a fire, bow shooting contest and treasure hunt were all scheduled and happened as planned. Students from both schools had a great amount of fun, coming up with ideas for every challenge encountered at the activities. In the end, everyone learned something useful and was happy to come back home after a trip where food was hard to find and beds were rough like rocks, hopefully making them enjoy their life at home to a further extent.
The purpose of my project was to bless and serve a local ethnic community. Working alongside an empowering Akha woman named Ana, she guided me through the needs of the hill tribe youth. Culturally, the youth do not get to explore their dreams; if they are good at something, they can only stick to that area. This leaves many youth feeling like they have less control over their future and less empowered. Being a minority as a hilltribe youth, adds additional layers of pressure and boundaries.
I combined my own values of blessing and the need of the community to simply try to create an atmosphere of joy and discovery to honor them. I really wanted a project that would bring encouragement but didn’t want to impose my western values. Taking in consideration of the community and of my team, I decided that we could do multiple things. We had a day where we went to the church and blessed a community of 30+ youth and children. My team and I provided them with opportunities to explore art, music, and games.
For my senior project I brought a group of about 15 people, including scouts, students, and parents, to bless the Baan Nam Jai orphanage with various smaller maintenance projects. These projects included scraping off the old paint on the outdoor walls of their main office building, painting the trim around the office, painting the Home’s concrete water tank holder, and painting two tables, at the request of the Home’s owner. We worked from 8 in the morning to 4 in the afternoon, with occasional food and water breaks.
A few of the kids at the Baan Nam Jai orphanage also volunteered to help me with the different projects. This was to build up a stronger relationship with these kids, as well as to give the kids something to do that would benefit the place where they lived and would be a source of pride for them.
The main goals of the project were to give assistance in an area where the Home needed help, to build a better relationship with the people of Baan Nam Jai, and to give the kids at the orphanage a project for themselves to teach them hard work and give them something to be proud of. In my opinion, my project completed all of the goals.
My senior project created a video for the Akha Outreach Foundation, which will be used for fundraising and to gain sponsors for the orphans. This video captures the transformation that occurs in the broken children that arrive at Akha Outreach Foundation. Hopefully, when our sponsors see what they are investing in, they will feel reassured and be encouraged to continue offering support.
On February 19, 2015, I led 21 Middle School students to Thai-Akha Ministries Foundation. They left school at 8:10 a.m. to arrive at the foundation at 9:00 a.m. The students worked on two different tasks until they left at 2:40 p.m. Last year, an earthquake damaged several buildings and some of the rubble from one building was still taking up space next to a playground. One group picked up rubble and moved it to another location so that the foundation can use the land where the rubble used to be. Another group smoothed large piles of dirt into an area for students at the foundation to relax and socialize. Both groups accomplished a significant amount of work and left feeling exhausted yet accomplished.
Having always longed to impact the tribal people of Thailand with the awareness of Christ, I organized a team to read Christian stories to children from a local village school. And I accompanied those games with night-bazaar-inspired games and a movie. Because I believe God’s love is a treasure to be shared, I wanted to create a day of circus fun for the kids by having my Christian team members pour out their hearts in spending time with them.