"Start by doing what’s necessary; then do what’s possible;
and suddenly you are doing the impossible.”
(Often attributed to St. Francis of Assisi, but likely a different source)
When we are in the trailing end of a seemingly interminable pandemic, it is essential to recognize sources of energy - the most remarkable of which have got to be our children. They are excited about getting back to school, happy about new teachers and new programs, glad to be making new friends and planning their futures. Their energy is contagious, which is probably why our school has so much excitement right now. Plans for this year abound and creative ideas are showing up in every classroom and meeting. We know that people are noticing who we are and we are doubly committed to showing them.
One new initiative that we are proud to introduce is our Social Impact and Sustainability Program (SISP). Social action and environmental awareness have always been important at THS: “Community Oriented” is one of our five basic values. From Cesar Harada’s 2015 TED talk (and winning Jane Goodall’s Roots and Shoots award for that project the previous year) to our rock videos about social or environmental issues, to the creation of a furniture unit for subsidized housing in Hong Kong, and of course our annual Global Issues Conference, students in all grades have demonstrated and acted upon a passion for making the world better. Our school’s Green Committee has also initiated many internal programs.
A few years ago, students in our high school were given a challenge: They had a plot of land on some hospital grounds in Kenya, and sick children there needed a school. They had no money, no design, and 9 months. They designed and named the school and raised the necessary funding to build it. They formed an organization (Meraki Giving) and their school, which they named Kuunga Mkono, is now a functioning school. The next year, Meraki Giving partnered with a Farmers’ Cooperative in Peru to import, grind, package and sell coffee (which the students named Caferuña) in Hong Kong, with proceeds going back to the farmers’ village.
And in 2019, a band of students and teachers in the primary school formed a small club called Project Hope. In the past two years, Project Hope has produced a “level-up” program for Domestic Helpers (with THS faculty and parents teaching), hosted a blood drive, created Mother’s Day thank-you gifts for helpers, sent Get Well Packages to ailing children and elderly patients all over the world, created a Moon Cake and Mask Distribution Project, and much much more. What started as a tiny group has become a major force, partnering or affiliating with other NGOs, businesses and government organizations. In fact, we were just notified that Project Hope has won a Certificate of Merit in the Hong Kong Green Council’s first ever Sustainable Development Goals Achievement Awards.
So being Community Oriented is not new to THS, but this year we are stepping up and coordinating our previous programs. The SISP has not only schoolwide projects and workshops, but also grade-specific areas of emphasis that have been closely aligned with the THS Science or Social Studies units for that grade. We will focus on all 17 of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, and members of the SISP team have received training and certification from UNICEF in order to better understand and communicate these goals. As a community, we strongly believe that the best ideas for solving problems will come from youth who are aware and committed. These are the years when great passions are formed and great commitments made, and it is the energy of youth that will create a safer world.
So welcome to the new academic year! We know that it will continue to bring surprises and challenges, new accomplishments and moments of deep reflection. As a team of parents, teachers and kids, we will all be working to shape the evolution of ourselves, our school and our world in these complex and exciting times.