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Making a positive difference in the world

Giving back to the community is one of the cornerstone characteristics of an AIS education. The AIS student leadership team organises several student-led fundraising events each year, and their most recent initiative far surpassed our expectations thanks to the incredible generosity of our AIS families.

At AIS, our holistic educational philosophy empowers young learners to become curious and reflective global citizens who are keen to make a positive difference in their world.

Encouraging our students to listen to the world around them and fostering a sense of community responsibility throughout the school is an increasingly important element of this vision. Accordingly, for the past five years, AIS has partnered with Loreto Vietnam – a well-established charity organisation that focuses on providing education and sanitation to the poorer rural schools across the country.

Says Principal of Secondary School, Mr Ben Armstrong, "Loreto works closely with government members to identify districts that are most in need. A school is then selected with suggestions on how they could best be supported (library, toilet blocks, bicycles, etc.), and they pass these details on to us to assist with our fundraising initiatives."

This year, AIS's fundraising efforts aimed to help build and stock a new library at the C An Cu Primary School in the An Cu Commune – a kindergarten and primary school on the Vietnam-Cambodia border. As an entirely student-led initiative, the AIS student leadership team organised regular events and activities to help fund this project, including school dances, free-dress days, Teacher Torment and Spirit Weeks, concerts and productions, to name a few.

With the whole school working together towards a common goal, our students not only reached their fundraising target but far exceeded it, with a truly uplifting and heartening outcome.

"There was some money left over, so we were able to purchase 60 bicycles and helmets to help children in the community access education more readily," confirms Mr Armstrong. "Some students spend one-and-a-half hours walking to and from school daily, coming from distances of up to seven kilometres away." 

Le My Yen (Jennye) plays an active role in the AIS student leadership team, serving as a secretary executive in the Student Representative Council. The altruistic Year 10 student feels it is essential for young people to give back to the community and was delighted to be involved in such a worthwhile cause.

"It allows us to venture out into the big world and experience different perspectives and lifestyles; the feeling of contributing is incomparable," she explains. "It is a tremendous opportunity and honour to be able to help others who are less fortunate. If each of us can contribute a small effort, big changes can be achieved. I believe it is really beneficial not just to the community but also to students."

Fellow council member Thanyasree Mohanagumuran (Year 9) couldn't agree more.

"There are many people who aren't as fortunate as us, so students need to give back so that we can understand just how lucky we are. We should always try to help as much as we can."

Jennye and Thanyasree were part of the AIS group who made the six-hour bus trip to C An Cu Primary School to present the bicycles, accompanied by Mr Armstrong and Long Bui, an RMIT student interning at AIS. Both girls were humbled and extremely grateful to see the impact the school's donations would have on the young learners.

"The huge smile and joy on each student's face when they received the gift was unparalleled. It has made me want to work even harder for initiatives like this in the future so that I may help many more people in need," says Jennye. 

"My highlight was seeing the children’s excitement when they got their new bicycles," adds Thanyasree. "I was thrilled to see that the bicycles made them happy and meant that they don't need to walk to school every day."
Thanks to the valuable lessons these experiences offer, the student councillors can't overstate the importance of keeping fundraising initiatives in the hands of the student body.

"It's very meaningful for students to undertake the challenge of generating income, as well as having the opportunity to participate in various activities, see the reality, and view things from different perspectives that we may not have considered," states Jennye. "Additionally, it's very rewarding when students have accomplished something significant. 

"During this journey, I learnt a lot about communication and developed my emotional and social intelligence skills. I had the opportunity to step outside my comfort zone and realised that seemingly small actions could significantly influence others. These are all important life lessons that will benefit me in the future."

"This was the first time I've been involved in organising fundraising events at AIS, but surely not the last," echoes Thanyasree. "I have a lot of ideas to help keep next year's activities fresh and interesting for the students. Personally, I'd like to create some entertaining activities such as mini-games or dancing to fun songs so that everyone is enthusiastic, excited and wants to participate."

While Loreto will soon cease their activities in Vietnam due to the difficulties of COVID-19, our Student Representative Council is currently finalising the details of a new charitable partnership. Discussions are underway to identify new sustainable development goals as they explore ways to maximise the success of our fundraising, responsible donations and gifts to best serve the community. We look forward to sharing these details with you at the beginning of the next academic year as our students once again rise to the challenge and show the incredible generosity of our AIS families.