First icarex since the pandemic

Written by: Sara

Edited by: Jaeho 

Visual by: Owen 

This year, many ICAREx activities were held in person for the first time in 2 years! ICARE is one of the very best things about high school, where the experience will always be remembered about your high school days. ICARE stands for International Community Actively Responding to the Environment, and is a leading service opportunity at ISM. In contrast, ICAREx’s “x” stands for virtually, although most ISM students were together in person to do the activities this semester, not all ICARE experiences and communication with service partners were in person, so the ISM high school continued ICAREx just like last year. Students and their advisors work with ISM’s service partners to maintain, and develop a safe, empowered, and cohesive community. ISM does ICARE in order to form strong bonds with their service partners, and to develop cultural appreciation and love for the Filipino community. Minkyu, a sophomore who will be co-president for the ICARE council next year says, “As every highschool student is involved in this service opportunity, we can make connections with the local people who need our support and also become unified as a Bearcat.” Tackling global issues at a local level online has been difficult, yet it has allowed ISM students to be more open-minded and exposed to service activities and mindsets.

Despite the constraints such as lack of direct communication with service partners, ICAREx was still meaningful where students gained service experience. A freshman, who would like to stay anonymous, was part of a group that held a bake sale in order to raise funds for their service partner, Project BEST. She says that the success of the bake sale truly illustrated how much effort goes into these events, and how a little bit of planning goes a long way. She expressed how her first ICARE was an amazing learning experience for her. She also enjoyed the process of planning activities, and cannot wait for next year’s ICARE, where she hopes to be able to implement her experience from this year to improve her activity next year. The multiple sessions with her advisory peers allowed her to form closer bonds with them especially through the discussions that they had.

ICARE also focuses on United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Takao, a sophomore, demonstrated “Quality Education”, Sustainable Development Goal 4. He was part of a group in collaboration with CJ Learning Center, and their students through Zoom. For about an hour, his group and children at the CJ Learning Center met, doing roughly 15 minutes of activities on Math, English, and Science. They taught enjoyable lessons which his group had planned beforehand. Takao’s group also held a bake sale to raise money for their service partner’s needs, such as tables and stationery. “The Zoom meeting was the best part of the experience, as we got to actually talk to the students at CJ, and it was fun meeting new friends,” Takao said. His group’s action will positively leave an impact on their service partner CJ learning center where children will always have access to study essentials.

After many ICARE sessions being held online, and finally having ICAREx sessions face-to-face, one thing that was not as successful was that students were not able to collaborate in different grade levels. Before the pandemic, ICARE was held with a mixture of grades, however students were only able to collaborate with their advisory peers, with only the same grade level this year. Collaborations outside of the grade level allows students to implement more perspectives. Elder grades have more experience, so they would be able to provide ideas from their previous experiences. While elder grades would develop their leadership, younger grades would be able to prepare for when they become the elder grade. Additionally, bonding with other grades is more effective and enjoyable since it allows students to create more friends from different grade levels . 

Thus, students managed to maintain their passion for service within the ISM community. Bearcats can only hope for less restrictions next year, for a wider range of activities and fundraisers, for a more effective, creative, and supportive community. We look forward again for an offline face-to-face ICARE opportunity next year.