The culmination of the CAS program has ultimately allowed me to better understand my interests and passions. For example, I was unable to take an arts course in the DP program as I wanted to take chemistry and biology. At the same time though, I have always enjoyed both visual arts and film. By doing event photography at the school, and Zoom film festival, I had the opportunity to explore these areas and decide if they are something I would like to pursue further. A challenge I have always faced is deciding what exactly I am interested in. I am quick to change my mind and am always eager to try something new. This is particularly true when it comes to my athletic activities. Often times I find myself disinterested in repetitive sports, and have expanded the number and variety of activities I participate in to learn about which I enjoy the most and should develop further.
The program encourages a well-balanced variety of activities and commitments – pushing people out of what they typically do. A think a large portion of the success in the “self-awareness” learning outcome is based on the success in “exploration”. Exploration is multi-dimensional, as it relates to an investigation into mental and physical capabilities. I believe this is strongly related to taking risks and being open-minded. Prior to joining the cross-country team I was not aware of how much I loved running, and now I understand that this is a skill I would like to continue to develop.
A variety of commitments I engaged in throughout the last 2 years have required intensive planning as well as initiative. Often times, I felt these outcomes were best achieved in group activities. Organizing the group 4 retreat was a major commitment which required intensive planning as there were a large number of students and teachers participating. Weekly meetings prior to the retreat, and multiple meetings each day during the retreat were dedicated to this event and ensuring it ran smoothly. To me, this was clear evidence that the more planning that goes into a project, the more smoothly the events will run – essentially you get out what you put in. Although I greatly value spontaneity and the ability to problem solve in unexpected situations, I have learned that thorough planning is the best way to ensure everything goes according to plan. I have been able to translate the organizational skills I learned from my CAS commitments into my school work and time management.
My idea of taking initiative was definitely developed through the CAS program. As I became involved in more commitments, such as Amnesty International, I was inspired to take responsibility to be involved more in Global Outreach trips. Additionally, when working in groups such as the Grad Committee, it can be difficult to reach a decision or plan an event until someone takes initiative for that specific topic. The organization of the grad Christmas tree sale is an event I took on and I really enjoyed the freedom and possibilities that are obtainable when making executive decisions.
I believe that I have fulfilled the learning outcome of collaboration through a number of different commitments. Being on the Grad Committee, I quickly developed a sense of what it means to work on a team on a regular basis. Although I have worked in other service-related groups before, there were often adult leaders who told us what to do. This year, we got substantially more responsibility and more tasks to complete. By sharing the workload and all taking responsibility, we managed to have a great year and hosted many successful events. One particular event I organized was the grad Christmas tree sale. This annual event was a great success, and this can be partially attributed to the great collaboration of almost everyone in the grade. Along with a couple other people, I determined how to assign tasks to every person to make the event run smoothly. 70 pairs of hands really can get a lot more done than one!
The Zoom film festival also required collaboration, but in a very different way. I did this festival for three years in a row, and each year the group dynamic was completely different. I have learned that the skills and techniques of each group member need to be utilized to their greatest potential, and the ways in which people interact depends on their working style. The first two years of doing the competition, we all tried to be involved in every aspect of the film, but in the most recent year, our group decided that it would be more time effective if we split up some of the tasks. Although it is hard to say which method was better, I definitely learned a lot about how to work with a smaller group of people without taking on too much of an overpowering leadership role or remaining in the background.
Commitment has never been my strongest suit, mainly because I dislike making decisions that could possibly limit me or restrict me from doing something else. As I have gone through the CAS program, I feel as if I better understand what it means to be “committed” and how I can achieve this without confining myself to a certain area. I have realized that it is better to be committed to a few specific areas which I can improve more quickly, as well as try out new activities in my spare time, in a more recreational fashion.
Becoming a global citizen is an important aspect of the CAS program. ‘Globalocal’ impact can be made through a balanced variety of service commitments which impact the local and global community. Locally, I have been involved in a number of service commitments which benefit the school community – particularly as a member of the Grad Committee and Prefect team. Local commitments with a more global focus include participation in Model United Nations and Amnesty International. MUN, in addition to helping me improve my public speaking and debating skills, has allowed me to explore international conflicts and issues. Discussing these from the perspective of foreign countries has given me a new perspective on the challenges each country faces and how they can work together to combat corruption, debt and other wide spread problems. Amnesty international involves the writing of letters to foreign officials to demand justice and support people in unfavorable situations due to discriminatory laws and corruption. Writing letters is done from a classroom at our school – but the letters are mailed around the world to impact places and break the restrictions of distance. I learned that modern communications can connect us, but nothing can replace actually travelling to a location and actually seeing the direct impact. As a member of the Global Education and Outreach Club I have had the opportunity to travel to both Costa Rica and Kenya with a group of other students in conjunction with other companies such as Me to We, CATIE, and Free the Children. Working on buildings was great as we could see the physical process and real impacts of the projects, but interacting with the people was one of the most rewarding and impactful parts of the trips.
Through experiences a better sense of what is ‘ethical’ can be realized. The most crucial experience in developing this learning outcome was the Global Outreach trip to Kenya as I got to interact with people and appreciate the differences and similarities in our lives. Additionally, travelling to Thailand allowed me to see another lifestyle and contrast this with my other experiences. Seeing disparities in countries as well as the effects of globalization and corporate outsourcing to create products has made me a more aware consumer. I have been able to take away a viewpoint that is more globally conscious and through seeing the environmental and socioeconomical differences I have learned the importance of responsible tourism and helping others as well as the environment. I have developed an appreciation for teamwork and the people around me – in both my local and global community.
Each commitment I engaged in taught me a new skill. It is difficult to define exactly what one could consider a “skill”, but I believe I have developed both tactical and interactive skills. Abilities such as collaboration and clear expression of ideas were developed through Model UN and the Global Outreach trip. On the other hand, joining the cross country team, playing drums, and participating in the Zoom film festivals taught me techniques and improved my physical abilities in these areas. What can be learned from a single commitment is not limited to a single skill – I cannot think of a single activity which only taught me one new skill. A dynamic combination of capabilities was required to complete tasks with success and I believe this is the most effective way to learn. Though focusing on a single aspect can be improved rapidly with focus, I believe that skills cannot work by themselves but rather in conjunction with one another. I think CAS provided me with the opportunity to explore and improve a variety of areas and achieve the 8 learning outcomes.