Fostering well-rounded individuals goes hand in hand with nurturing responsible global citizens. Across all grade levels, Silicon Valley International School (INTL) creates opportunities for students to take part in volunteer work and active involvement in the global community. By engaging in service to others and contributing to the broader world, INTL students not only enrich their own lives but also embody INTL's values of community and empathy that are essential in today's interconnected world.
Many of INTL’s dedicated faculty members play a pivotal role in instilling the values of volunteerism and global community involvement in our students. They serve as living examples, demonstrating the power of action through their own volunteer work and community engagement. Ina Berenger, Upper School Art Teacher, describes her six-week experience volunteering in Kenya where funds raised by an INTL student-driven coin drive were used to help construct a classroom.
The money raised through INTL's coin drive supports the completion of this future grade 6 class room.
Greetings from Kenya to our INTL community! It seems impossible to summarize my time in Kenya in one blog! Kenya was an abundance of everything: So much joy, the cutest kids, countless laughs, the most beautiful nature walks, eye-opening experiences and observations, many moments of deep sadness and of shared hope. Spending time here was surely a reality check and made me rethink the things we take for granted and how they shape us as humans.
Ina with some of the students
The school I worked in has about 270 students from preschool to 5th grade and will continue to grow to 9th grade. When the school opened three years ago, the founders visited hundreds of homes to identify the most vulnerable and neediest kids in the community offering them a free education (financed through a sponsorship program). These kids now make up the school community and come here every day to grow and learn. Most speak little English and missed a lot of school since lacking funds for school fees or taking care of siblings or a sick parent prevented them from attending school regularly.
A typical school lunch
During my time here, I worked in the classrooms, supporting teachers and students. One highlight was the school’s “Vacation School Program”: We invited 50 students struggling academically to come and spend three hours with us every day during their two week break for additional practice. The kids loved it and we had almost full attendance every day! This was a transformative experience for many students as we taught them in small groups at their level and for the first time they dared to speak up and actively participated in the classes, gaining confidence in their abilities. The teachers were in awe to see the changes in their students. Traditional teaching here is very teacher-centered and contains a lot of choral responses and copying from the board in classes of sometimes over 40 students. During my time here I led several teacher professional development sessions and demoed lessons and techniques for the teachers that challenged the students to develop collaboration and communication skills. We also started hands-on learning centers for the younger kids. It is exciting to see the changes happening, one small step at a time.
Learning centers for the kindergarten group
One of the most impactful experiences for me personally were our home visits. We spent many afternoons, driving on a moped on the bumpiest roads imaginable to visit and connect with our school’s families, learning about their living situation and finding out how we can support them. The needs are huge and many situations are very desperate. Educating people about health-related matters like nutrition and family planning, is another area we worked on here.
As I said in the beginning, there is a lot to digest and I am sure my time here will have a long-lasting effect on my perspectives on life. I have the deepest respect for the people I met and how they choose joy and hope and embrace their lives despite facing so many challenges. While I’m realistic enough to know that our efforts here won’t solve the challenges this country has as a whole, I am confident this little “Village of Hope” that offers love, education and support has a life-changing effect on the people, and especially the children, of its community. For more information, feel free to email me at email@example.com or visit Village of Hope - Kenya.