ICARE Revisited

Article by Angelica Chang

Photograph from PID 2013

With the school semester coming to an end, ISM students are preparing for the much-anticipated annual ICARE (International Community Actively Responding to the Environment) week-long service trip. ICARE has become the epitome of ISM’s core service values, making it the highlight of the year for many wishing to “contribute positively to their community, the environment and to learn more about the Philippines and its culture”, as per the ICARE blog. As seniors approach their last ICARE as seasoned adventurers, the freshmen will embark as novice venturers, ready to pursue an enriching high school learning experience.

Although ICARE may be a completely foreign feature to new students, it is no surprise to freshman Woosuk K.

“I expect ICARE to be similar to my CWW experience in middle school,” he said.

CWW (Classroom Without Walls) is Middle School’s own version of ICARE wherein students engage in a week-long service trip occurring twice a year which exposes them to a variety of global issues and encourages them to reflect upon their own actions to the community.

ISM’s commitment to developing “responsible, caring and ethical contributors” through building an emphasis on service learning within the school’s curriculum has prepared many freshmen to quickly assimilate with the ICARE program. However, there are those freshmen who simply look forward to ICARE “as it mixes service learning and meeting new people” which Nina M., states that she “is very excited for.”

Woosuk agrees and is also “looking forward to bonding with [his] group in Estancia.” He later adds how his excitement stems from “going outside of Manila and seeing what life is like there.” It seems like getting the opportunity to bond with different students from different grades and exploring issues of global importance is a universal passion amongst the batch.

Despite the positive reception, Nina reveals how rumors such as “groups tending to bond better when going to provincial sites, rather than in metro sites” have caused some freshmen to paint a negative image over metro sites. Although the 24/7 bonding in an unfamiliar province may cultivate stronger relationships, local sites are at no disadvantage, as the quality of the trip really depends on the commitment of the individual to be willing to undertake new challenges and facilitate collaboration with others in order to make ICARE a mutually beneficial experience for everyone.

It is important to remember that ICARE is simply the beginning of a lifetime of service, and students wishing to pursue their exploration are encouraged to maintain connections with their ICARE site. As the new CAS (Creativity, Action, and Service) system under the IB program moves towards placing greater emphasis on student leadership and student-governed activities, students are faced with even more opportunities to initiate a joint project with any one of ISM’s service partners.

Although one week may only seem like a short time in a student’s jam-packed year, the values, leadership and collaboration skills students develop within the course of the trip will no doubt mold them to become the change makers of the future.