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Finding hope and joy in a year of change

by Viola Buck | First published in IB Community Stories, Primary Years Programme (PYP), 3 March 2021

When Typhoon Goni started in the Philippines, we experienced heavy winds from October to December 2020. It was the strongest typhoon that took place last year and made our students think of all the people that were affected by it—those who got flooded, lost their homes and were evacuated to safety.

Organizing our fundraising show

With our unit’s theme “How We Organise Ourselves”, grade two students set out to learn how natural disasters transform and affect a community (causation) and the ways we respond to them (responsibility). As a result, they decided to donate survival/emergency kits.

To be able to gather the materials needed, our school organized a virtual talent show with the amazing support of the parent community. The aim of the show was to raise money for the kits and we decided to help the city where our school is located, especially those living near the coastal areas, by providing them with essential items should they need to evacuate away from the strong typhoons that were coming through Metro Manila.

“We should promote the idea of taking action to resolve the world’s problems, no matter how small our contribution is”.

It was lovely to have everyone on board from start to finish—students, parents including our Gesamtelternbeirat or GEB (Parent Advisory Council), teachers, school management and the city government. We held several meetings with our parents who helped us organize this big event that would give students the opportunity to showcase their talents. We even got parent-owned businesses (and the companies they work for) to sponsor the event and in return, our fourth graders created adverts for their organizations which aired during the show.

Our online play

The whole school theme for the play was “A Series of Fortunate Events”, highlighting that even though we experienced some difficulties in 2020 (a volcanic eruption, transport strike, COVID-19 (Coronavirus), more children living in difficult conditions etc.), our community would look back at the actions we took to turn those events into an opportunity to spread hope and joy—by helping others in any way we could. Although we were restricted to seeing our students online, knowing that our project was for a good cause kept us motivated and determined to make it a reality.

Together with our drama/arts teacher, the students put together a play with this plot: a student (Kaustuv) was tasked to write an article about 2020 in their newsletter. He was visited by four “guiding consciences”: hope, joy, anger and sadness. Sadness made Kaustuv see all the unfortunate events that happened last year (typhoon, volcanic eruption and the pandemic), anger made him feel frustrated and then came hope—that showed Kaustuv how our school helped children living in less fortunate areas in Manila by donating learning resources through our partnership with Scholastic Publishing and our call to action to donate essential items to the victims/evacuees of the Taal volcano eruption. Kaustuv then felt motivated to write a good article titled “GESM responds to 2020 with hope and joy”. Our music and homeroom teachers practiced the second part of the show with our students, showing their musical talents of singing, dancing and playing instruments.

  • Our students did their part by showcasing their talents during the fundraising show that was aimed at raising money for the emergency kit items. Upper primary helped us stay within our budget by learning how to organise data using Microsoft Excel. Lower primary practiced their drag and drop skills in ICT by helping us choose items for our kits.

  • Parents organized and collected sponsorships for our show.

  • Teachers facilitated the rehearsals and rolled up their sleeves to pack the emergency kit items (as children below 18 were not allowed to be in school or leave their homes).

  • The school administration organised the distribution of the kits whilst we livestreamed the event through our learning management system -- Microsoft Teams, for our students to see.

  • Our City Mayor Edwin Olivarez and City Congressman Eric Olivarez helped us organize the 60 families in the coastal areas of our city.

Reflecting on our contribution

The students were very content with their contribution as you can see in their reflections below:

Advice for other schools

Mattie Stepanek said it best in his quote: “Unity is strength… when there is teamwork and collaboration, wonderful things can be achieved“. Despite not being able to have our students since the beginning of August, adults, educators and parents have the responsibility of ensuring that aside from academics, we help our students become aware of the world around them. We should promote the idea of taking action to resolve the world’s problems, no matter how small our contribution is. One of our students shared that “although we are not allowed to go outside, we can still help in any way we can”. As a school community, we found our strength in collaboration and purposeful, meaningful action. We saw that we were able to accomplish a lot by working together and partnering with our local community. German European School Manila, as an IB World School, stands true to the IB mission of developing inquiring, knowledgeable and caring young people who help create a better and more peaceful world through intercultural understanding and respect.


This article first appeared in the IB World magazine and is part of a series of stories that bring to life the wonderful initiatives undertaken by IB students and educators from around the globe. To see the article as it appeared there, please click here.


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