To socialize is to be human. Not only verbally, but body language and touch also make up a huge part of our daily communication activities.
After one year of pandemic living, we have found ways of socializing safely and interacting with one another, following health and safety protocols by mask wearing, regular hand washing, and of course, social distancing.
In the pandemic’s early stages, we believed that by being physically distant from one another, with minimal contact, was mutually beneficial, that fewer face-to-face conversations were a good thing, and arranging online meetings was more efficient and effective. And safer.
As time goes by, we have realized that despite the need for social distancing, we still need to continue to reach out to communities and find ways of helping one another.
BIS students, in particular Secondary School students, have been active in local community outreach programs. They have helped create individual and group initiatives helping the wider community outside of BIS. Grade 6 students have started distributing masks to our Taman Bacaan students, a student-led activity, in which they teach English to local students in Sanur.
The BIS Student Council (STUCO) set up a food drive program, collecting basic food staples to be distributed to the unemployed and those adversely impacted by the pandemic. During their activities, STUCO made a list of priority items that could be donated to support the foundation’s aims of reducing hunger among Bali’s communities. The initiative brings into being the IB Learning Outcome, demonstrating engagement with issues of global significance.
The other Learning Outcome was to recognize and consider the ethics of our choices and actions. For example, avoiding single-use plastic bags for distributing the food, as it causes environmental problems.
The students also created a permaculture project, where the goal is to transform the available space into an organic and sustainable permaculture garden. The project also teaches students about gardening and helps to build and strengthen our BIS community, by also cooking and selling our produce.
The Bali Green Zone
BIS is also working with the local Bali government in supporting the creation of the Bali Green Zone, where residents in Sanur, Ubud and Nusa Dua are being vaccinated against Covid-19. Our school is proactively cooperating with the Head of Sanur Kaja village, opening its doors to become a Covid-19 vaccination centre.
The school courtyard was used as a Covid-19 vaccination centre for villages in Sanur Kaja, with almost 10,000 vaccinated. At the same time, with the help of our school nurse, the school was able to secure Covid-19 vaccines for our teachers and employees. By the end of May, when the second vaccination injection is scheduled, we will have all our staff fully vaccinated, meeting one of the key requirements from the Ministry of Education for fully reopening the school in July 2021. BIS is also continuously monitoring and improving our health protocols, creating a safe and secure working environment for all BIS staff and students.
The BIS Parent Teacher Association (PTA) works closely with the Bali Red Cross for its annual blood drive at our school campus. This commitment is very important as during the pandemic hotels and offices have closed down, making it challenging to source blood supplies, especially from the private sector. Earlier in April, The PTA also conducted the BIS Free Nasi Run collaborating with three students from Grade 5. They are currently completing their exhibition projects, encouraging others to get involved in making the signage for the next BIS PTA Nasi Run next week.
The BIS PTA has managed to raise enough money over the past few years’ events to help fund and organize the Free Nasi Run activity.
So what makes the ideal learning community? As well as the classroom, learning outside of the physical classroom and creating an impact in the local community is a key part of the BIS vision for our students.
While social distancing can present temporary challenges, BIS is still able to manage and create a socially aware community, not only within the school but outside too.