As a top British international school in Thailand, we aim to teach our students awareness of their privilege, especially in relation to the local area. This is why we place emphasis on supporting local charities, and our student-led ‘Make A Difference’ (RST-MAD) charity group is a key part of this. The group provides student empowerment through meaningful intervention in the lives of deprived people and animals here in Chon Buri, Thailand.
Our aim is that through immersive ethical values education, we can simultaneously promote our core learner profiles characteristics of resilience, reflectiveness, versatility, investigation (which includes critical thinking), collaboration and, most importantly, global-mindedness. RST-MAD as an initiative immerses students in a trinity of positive change:
- Making a difference to others.
- Making a difference to the student, by developing a healthier sense of self.
- Making a difference to the wider student body, by educating them about a diverse range of needs, in and outside our community [see below].
The guiding principle is student ownership and leadership of the process of difference-making. Where possible, RST-MAD students steer the ship. This involves:
- Identifying need in the local community
- Designing strategies for intervention
- Making positive difference through meaningful actions
- Inspiring the wider student body
Thailand’s Gini index rating – a representation of national inequality – is 35, almost identical to the UK’s and better than that of neighbouring Malaysia (41). The inequality gap between our students and those who live in the local area is far greater. RST-MAD is a portal of experience for students, offering a glimpse into the lives of those less fortunate (as well as the work of remarkable individuals in alleviating suffering and creating opportunity), which shapes ethical perspectives and promotes charitable thinking. RST-MAD enhances and amplifies forces of change within our School community and, by making small differences in the wider community. Our students take the lead; the wider student body is inspired to follow.
A second ethical convention we aim to address is ‘Participation’: the ability to participate in the processes and decisions that affect a person’s wellbeing and life. RST-MAD students face an opportunity and participation paradox. 8-year-old orphan, Jedah, has limited powers of participation and opportunities to improve his life. He depends on the participation of more fortunate members of society and the opportunities created by, for example, the work of RST-MAD in raising his annual care sponsorship at Baan Jing Jai.
“He can’t participate in life unless I participate in his life.” [Tetsuo, A Senior School student]
RST-MAD was originally a Senior School enrichment programme but has been rolled out across the whole School this year. This allows our Senior students to work alongside Prep and Pre-Prep students in order to establish a united approach when it comes to ‘difference-making’. This also provides our Senior students with more opportunities to develop their leadership and communication skills, by enabling and motivating younger students to get involved with fundraising projects. Where possible, we include a wider range of our staff and parent bodies into RST-MAD projects, too.
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