Leadership Through Community Engagement At NIST

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Scott Jamieson (he/him): welcome to the empathy to impact. Podcast

Scott Jamieson (he/him): we are visiting NIST in Bangkok today. And I have 4 service learning leaders from NIST, who are going to be sharing their experience with service learning and some of the service clubs they're working

Scott Jamieson (he/him): with at their school and really excited to learn more. There's so many opportunities at missed for students to engage in service. And it's gonna be great to be able to kind of share this story and think and see what these amazing students have been up to over this past school year and thinking about aspirations moving forward as we get close to the end of another school year. So I'm just gonna pass over to my guests for some quick introductions.

Pooja Popuri: Hi, so my name is Minnie. I'm in year 11. So grade 10, and I'm part of the Service group called Fio, which is friends of amano orchestra which focuses on music education. And I'm also an a leader of a service group called Angel, which is which is focusing on advocating for cancer patients.

Pooja Popuri: Hi, I'm Pooja. And I'm in year 12

Pooja Popuri: I work with the service group named Helping Hearts. We focus mainly on issues of poverty, especially surrounding childhood poverty in a lot of deprived areas around Bangkok.

Pooja Popuri: Hi, I'm Fuja. I'm also in year 11. So that's grade 10. And I'm the leader of feminist which

Pooja Popuri: focuses on gender equity within our school as well as the wider community. While also focusing on awareness.

Pooja Popuri: Hi! My name is Maya. I'm also a leader of angel wishes, and I'm also a leader of plastic Kunis, which also focuses on eliminating plastics

Pooja Popuri: in school.

Scott Jamieson (he/him): That sounds amazing, such

Scott Jamieson (he/him): great topics to be diving into. And it's so cool you have the opportunity to kind of engage with some of the things you care about in your community.

Scott Jamieson (he/him): And

Scott Jamieson (he/him): I wanna start

Scott Jamieson (he/him): oh, so many questions.

Scott Jamieson (he/him): with Pooja, can you talk a little bit about your particular organization. Just give us a little bit more of a background on some of the work you're doing.

Pooja Popuri: So feminist works with a community partner called Van and Rock, which is a shelter in Northern Thailand. They ho! They house a lot of refugees from both Myanmar and

Pooja Popuri: Thailand as well. So they do a lot of great work with providing medical aid, shelter, humanitarian aid, and a lot more. And what we try to do is that they make these kinds of arts and crafts in terms of bracelets and butterfly. Pt. We bring that to this, and we sell it to our community so we can support them financially, but then also raise awareness on what they do. So there's a lot more synergy within kind of increasing the voices of those that are marginalized, but also just

Pooja Popuri: making sure that what we do does have an impact.

Scott Jamieson (he/him): I love that. And I was actually on campus earlier in the school year. And there's a market, and I think I actually bought one of your bracelets for my daughter, and I think it's so cool this would be, you know, raising awareness about the amazing work this community partner is doing, but also finding ways that we can kind of support them on campus. I think that's really cool.

Scott Jamieson (he/him): And I'm gonna shift gears a little bit over Mini. Maybe you can share a little bit about. You've got 2 different initiatives that are a little bit different. I wonder if you could share a little bit about your work. There.

Pooja Popuri: Yeah. So I think the first initiative I'm gonna touch upon is Angel wishes. So that is a group that

Pooja Popuri: Ashley, me, Maya and another friend Sento we created in year 9. And that focuses on like advocating for cancer patients. So we've actually gone through a lot of different stages with that group we were looking at.

Pooja Popuri: At first we did childhood cancer, but then

Pooja Popuri: we learned a lot of things about working with community partners and how to kind of keep that contact. And sometimes it's hard for us, because we were really new to this kind of idea of leading and finding brand new community partners. And the biggest challenge was finding

Pooja Popuri: their needs and kind of realizing that it's not what we want to give them, but what they want to get from us. So that was something we really learned from partnering with external community partners. And now we're currently working with Angel Foundation, which takes in hair donations. So that's an ongoing project that we have going on at school.

Pooja Popuri: And we're also looking at finding more

Pooja Popuri: like flexible community partners, because a lot of the medical organizations we want to work with. They're very busy because they're doctors. So we take like a more flexible approach with

Pooja Popuri: collecting money. But then we find out what we want to donate to, but that later on. So that's more of like a 2 step process rather than having, like a fixed community partner.

Scott Jamieson (he/him): Maya. I wonder if you could jump in here as well and talk a little bit about your work is with angel wishes, maybe add on a little bit.

Pooja Popuri: Yeah. I think when you came to campus it was during pink Tober, and that was actually hosted by angel wishes and feminist, and a bunch of other service groups. I think we were really proud of that event. We raised a lot of money and donated towards a really good cause. And it was really we were really proud to see our achievements. Yeah.

Scott Jamieson (he/him): It was a fantastic experience when I was just lucky enough to be at school that day or during, you know, Pink Tober, and seeing just how engaged all the students were, and how this connected with the whole community. As everyone's coming on a campus, everyone's kind of passing through. It's a great opportunity to learn more about what some of these service groups are doing, and also like the marketplace. If you could kind of buy just like

Scott Jamieson (he/him): what Pj. Was saying, you know, could buy something to support one of these community groups. So I think that's so cool. Actually, sento was my Tour guide that day, and I get to learn a little bit about Angel wishes from her as well as I was able to kind of move around the space.

Scott Jamieson (he/him): Pause. Do you want to share a little bit about your work?

Pooja Popuri: Yes, definitely. So just like other groups, we have a distinct product line that we sell in order to raise funds for our community partner. We are currently partnering with a charity that runs

Pooja Popuri: an orphanage of of

Pooja Popuri: free orphanage for students for low income students within the bound Muslim area. And those students through this charity is able to access

Pooja Popuri: nursery education, which helps them go on to primary education and so on. And that opens a lot of doors for them with the other aspect of helping hearts, is also being able to connect with these children. We don't want to be just be a distant activist and just send them money and said, what we do do often is we organize a trip every year and revisit the center. We regularly talk to them about what their needs are and what their circumstances are.

Pooja Popuri: And I think this experience allows our members to also learn a lot about how.

Pooja Popuri: how about about how social context can be different for different people, and how we can take action to ensure much more social justice on the long term.

Scott Jamieson (he/him): I love that. And I love what you're talking about, you know, doing kind of this blend of indirect service, where we're doing a little bit of fundraising, but also direct service. We're in direct contact and taking a trip out to kind of meet the people in these organizations and really kind of see what they're doing. I think that's so cool and really kind of you talk about just really more deeply understanding the needs of that community to allow you to really kind of target your work

Scott Jamieson (he/him): and raising awareness about what's happening there.

Scott Jamieson (he/him): for people on campus. So I think that's really cool.

Scott Jamieson (he/him): You guys need to pause for a sec. Is there somebody, or we're good.

Pooja Popuri: It's good.

Scott Jamieson (he/him): Google.

Scott Jamieson (he/him): Mini, you also said you have another organization you work with. That is a little more focused on music. And I'm curious about that one, too.

Pooja Popuri: Yes. So that's I'm leading a group called Fio. So that's friends of the Emano Orchestra. So primarily we work with the emano orchestra, which is a organization that helps

Pooja Popuri: underprivileged students in the client community to actually have, like a pathway for them to have

Pooja Popuri: to get money, and also to have, like a better pathway in life through music which we thought was really inspirational. And we wanted to help them. And just like Podge

Pooja Popuri: Audis Service Group? Did we also have a mix of indirect and direct service with the most recent

Pooja Popuri: event that we were able to do with them was perform with them. So NIST musicians and musicians from the Immano orchestra come together and perform as the opening act of the Year close conference. Which was this? East Asian Conference for teachers. And I think that was just really special, because we not only got to help them, but we got to like, enjoy this

Pooja Popuri: passion that brought us together in the first place, with them, which is really special about that service group.

Scott Jamieson (he/him): That's so amazing, and it must been such a great event. And I love you kind of bring that to a conference like Air coast where we have educators coming from all across the region. And what a great showcase for for that work you're doing. And you know, connecting like, say, connecting something you're passionate about with kind of helping out these people in a community and having that kind of reciprocal relationship. And you guys have all talked about your relationship with your community partners.

Scott Jamieson (he/him): and just how important that is to. I think it was something that

Scott Jamieson (he/him): was said earlier on about doing kind of really understanding the needs of that community partner, and not just saying something that we want to do to help like really kind of thinking about how we connect with them, and really kind of make this a reciprocal experience, where we're learning from them and acting with them to design projects that can really help them out, but also gonna help us in our kind of learning journey as global citizens as well.

Scott Jamieson (he/him): What are some things you've learned interacting with community partners. And what are some challenges that you face that you've had to overcome as you're connecting with these people in the community outside of your school.

Pooja Popuri: I think a challenge is actually understanding their needs, because sometimes we assume what they need. And we don't do a needs analysis to kind of find out what they actually want from us and what we can help to improve. The situation they're in. Yeah. For example, Angel wishes first, we wanted to do like like visiting hospitals and kind of supporting the cancer patients. But then, after we researched.

Pooja Popuri: we realized that that was not what they needed. It was more of the financial aid and emotional support they needed. So yeah, I think needs, analysis is a really challenging part of service.

Pooja Popuri: Yeah, just adding onto that. I think it's really important that once you realize that services kind of on both ends, it's not more of I'm doing this for someone just because I can say that I did it. It's more of I actually want to help people, and I need to find out what the best way it is for me to do that. I think that's what really makes a difference. And it's also really important to distinguish that with every single active service you do, because

Pooja Popuri: otherwise it's just kind of you're coming from this place of power and not from this place of understanding.

Pooja Popuri: If I can just add on to that. I think oftentimes because we do go to quite a well endowed international school. We're often limited by our experiences. So what we think may be very insignificant or very tokenistic, can actually mean a lot for the community partners we're working with. Michael. We were actually quite surprised when our community partner

Pooja Popuri: requested that we help provide some Christmas presents for the kids at the at the Daycare Center, because.

Pooja Popuri: you know, a lot of us from

Pooja Popuri: privilege backgrounds would have expected, wouldn't have expected such small things like stationary or basketball to be unaffordable for a lot of these families, but

Pooja Popuri: In many cases they are unaccessible to many of these families and being able to even provide small items like this, even if they're not necessarily

Pooja Popuri: structural change, or they're not. Significant changes do do create a lot of meaning for our community partners and

Pooja Popuri: make them much happier.

Pooja Popuri: Yeah. And I just adding onto the needs analysis, I think like conducting multiple throughout your time. Working with them is important thing to do, because sometimes their needs change. And it's really helpful to be like in contact with them, always trying to figure out what is the next? Maybe what else you can do to help them, because their position changes as you work with them more, and that kind of strengthens the relationship as well.

Scott Jamieson (he/him): Amazing. I'm just. I'm blown away like this so much great stuff there. And talking about, you know sometimes that power imbalance, you know, as we come to work with you. We don't want to come in, as you know, the saviors who are out to save everything. We really wanna kind of think about. This is a collaborative approach where we're connecting with them. We're listening to them. We're understanding their needs

Scott Jamieson (he/him): and many. That's absolutely true like this ongoing communication, where we understand how their needs are evolving over time and how things change.

Scott Jamieson (he/him): And you know just how important that is to kind of have that kind of open communication. And this long term connection, I think that's something else. You know, we these are, you know, organizations that you've been working with

Scott Jamieson (he/him): over a long period of time. This isn't a kind of one off one visits fundraiser. This is, you know, ongoing over multiple years. And we can really kind of see that impact. And I think that's so amazing the work you're doing.

Scott Jamieson (he/him): What drew you to the service groups that you worked you work with. There's a lot of choice apps. Nist for how we might get involved with service. What brought you to the groups you're you involved with, and in some cases started new groups. I believe, from earlier conversation.

Scott Jamieson (he/him): How did that all come together? As you were kind of getting into this part of your education and sort of you know what opportunities are presented to you like. How do you come into that as a student? And what's sort of

Scott Jamieson (he/him): drove you to these particular organizations or these particular clubs with you. Would that you work with.

Pooja Popuri: Well, actually, I'm I'm a relatively new student in this. I've only been here for a year.

Pooja Popuri: and when I came into this I was actually quite startled by the amount of choice we have. We have like 30 or something service groups, and all of them are active. At 50

Pooja Popuri: we'll serve it.

Pooja Popuri: 15

Pooja Popuri: service groups. And out of all all those groups they are active in different ways. But to me I think what drew me the most was just

Pooja Popuri: my previous interest in other areas. So at my last school I had done

Pooja Popuri: a personal project in the Mi on micro financing, and I felt that. And I directed that towards communities within urban areas.

Pooja Popuri: because I felt that even though microfinance was fine spreading void areas urban poverty or or urban economic issues are often becoming overlooked because of the level development we see in Bangkok and other large cities. So I, when I found out about helping hearts. I felt that they were

Pooja Popuri: that their emphasis on

Pooja Popuri: urban poverty specifically childhood poverty within urban areas was extremely important and was an issue that is not being adequately

Pooja Popuri: focused upon in society. So that's why I felt that helping hearts was the right group for me.

Pooja Popuri: For me. I was also like Polish new. I joined this last year, and I actually came from a really small school that didn't have a lot of things going in terms of service or nothing really distinct. So I was

Pooja Popuri: very shocked when I actually came to miss. There's a lot of choices that kind of took me by surprise. I think something that miss does very well is that they group all of these service groups into different kind of Sdg groups which then based on me being interested in the humanitarian side of service, has able to find these lists of service groups that work with that with those kinds of Sdgs. And then from there I saw feminist, and I was like

Pooja Popuri: I just thought it was very in tune to what my interests are as a person and my background as well.

Pooja Popuri: Yeah. And for me well, for fio

Pooja Popuri: I've always been

Pooja Popuri: up.

Pooja Popuri: I've always loved music. I've been playing piano and cello since I was very young, like.

Pooja Popuri: yeah, 7 or 8. So I've always been inspired by music. I've it's always been something that's

Pooja Popuri: really helpful to me. And the group that was existing before that I heard

Pooja Popuri: could help others through. Music was something that I found really inspiring. So I wanted to join that.

Pooja Popuri: And then, for angel wishes. That was a group that, as I said earlier, I created with my incento, and that actually stemmed from all of our interests in medicine. We were all interested in like medical realms, and how that works. And I was also specifically inspired by my aunt and my like family. Who's she's a doctor, and also my grandpa, who was like at the time.

Pooja Popuri: diagnosed with cancer. So it was something quite close, and something that was really unknown to us at the time, and something we wanted

Pooja Popuri: to look more into and help with

Pooja Popuri: adding onto menu. I think this is really special, because you can get really close with your passion and grow what you're passionate about. Like. Many said we were all passionate about something in the medical field, so we were able to start a service group related to that. And I think it's really special that we have the opportunity to actually start something that

Pooja Popuri: we want to do and change the community. Yeah. And you would think that with more than we're for with around 50 service groups there'd be some overlap. But all the service groups are distinctly different, and they do different things within the community, which I think is really really cool, and I keep on hearing like new ideas of new service groups. I just had a meeting this lunch about a new service group, and that was also completely different than the other 50 service groups we have at NIST,

Pooja Popuri: and I just feel that the schools is really passionate about everything. And it's really nice.

Scott Jamieson (he/him): It is so cool. I remember being on campus and going around to meet with the students from the different groups, and just having some quick conversations. And you could tell, this is something that everyone was really passionate about. This wasn't something where we're. Oh, we have to do community service. We're checking a box here. This is absolutely not what this feels like when you're on campus, and as someone coming in from the outside, and I think it's so cool. Yeah.

Scott Jamieson (he/him): you have these opportunities to connect what you're passionate about. What kind of is in your heart

Scott Jamieson (he/him): with.

Scott Jamieson (he/him): you know, a need in the community is an authentic need that we can do something about. I think that's so empowering when we can kind of think about how we connect something that we care about

Scott Jamieson (he/him): with this issue, and think about how we might be able to design an action to make our community a little bit better. And I think that just is so amazing and such a great learning experience.

Scott Jamieson (he/him): And I love that. There's that flexibility, too, when you kind of say, Hey, you know, I, we see all these options. But what about this? And your school is pretty open to alright. Let's see how that goes, and the different community partners you work with. And

Scott Jamieson (he/him): all the impact dude were having

Scott Jamieson (he/him): beyond our school community. I think it's it's so inspiring. And I'm yeah. I I'm so excited to be able to connect. I I know is Cindy very well, who is one of the service coordinators at your school, and we've been trying to find a way to kind of have this conversation, because I get to meet some of you when I was on campus in October, and it's just so cool to be able to share your story. And you know, think about some of these really amazing things that we're doing.

Scott Jamieson (he/him): And I've lost my job. This is why we're not live.

Scott Jamieson (he/him): Let me just I I'm taking notes kind of over on the side here, and

Scott Jamieson (he/him): all of you are in the this is a pretty demanding school, academically and like a lot of international schools. And that requires, you know, a lot of time. And I'm sure you're also involved in other things beyond these service groups. But this you know, to have a meaningful relationship with a community partner and be involved in some of these initiatives.

Scott Jamieson (he/him): How do you balance all of that? You know, with all of your other responsibilities as a high school student.

Pooja Popuri: Hmm! I think for me personally, it's easier to balance things when you want to do them. So that's like the main thing that probably makes this possible for all of us is that we really want to do. This is not something that we're forced to do. So we make time for that.

Pooja Popuri: And I also think it's like this is

Pooja Popuri: has a really good system, and that

Pooja Popuri: in the way that we most of us have our meetings at lunch time. So it's not really like outside work we have to do and stay after school. It's something that we do at lunch, and then it's also a time where

Pooja Popuri: we don't do like pure work, and just all sit there typing, getting everything done. But it's a time to connect with other people in our school that believe in the same things as us want to help the same people, same groups.

Pooja Popuri: same things as us. So it's like more of like a fun activity that we get to do together in school time, sometimes outside of school time. But it's really manageable, I think, and fun for me.

Pooja Popuri: For me personally, I would also agree, but also bring in the kind of perspective that there are a lot of events that do happen that are organized by different service groups and nearing the event. It does get quite hectic for those individuals that are planning these cause. There's a lot of emphasis on student leadership within this. So there's a lot of student initiative within these different events. And so

Pooja Popuri: for me, personally, I've definitely been stressed out of the different events that I posted, but I feel like just the fact that you have people support

Pooja Popuri: that are there to support you in your service group that want to do the same thing you want to. And just the fact that the service group I'm in is aligned with my personal interest. It's makes it all worth it. And then.

Pooja Popuri: yeah, for adding onto puja as an example for pink tober. It was a really large event, and I think we were all pretty stressed. But then, when the actual event day came, we were really happy, and I think at the end of the day we were just proud of ourselves, and I think this

Pooja Popuri: the workload was all worth it

Pooja Popuri: at the end of the day. It's like what you see is what happens on the day. No matter. Oh, no matter scheduling conflicts or logistical errors, what happens is what you did work towards. So it's just really gratifying, seeing all of that

Pooja Popuri: can. Yeah.

Pooja Popuri: I actually do think that

Pooja Popuri: we we do to be honest sometimes struggle to get in paperwork or

Pooja Popuri: meeting minutes in on time. But I think the the point is that

Pooja Popuri: be because this is such a large school, and there are very good

Pooja Popuri: pre-existing structures. You can always get the support you need to get back on track.

Pooja Popuri: And I think that especially for larger events like Pink Tober, the fact that you have

Pooja Popuri: 5 or maybe 10 service groups working together means that the workload is evenly distributed, and everyone has a special something they're going to specialize in and really really focus on.

Pooja Popuri: And I think in terms of, especially as far as that, being able to work with that many groups you're able to delegate tasks. And because everyone's there by choice, it's not a chore for them. It's more of something that they have responsibility to do.

Pooja Popuri: Yeah. And we also have Service Co, which is something we're all in. And it's like the main overlooking committee to help support all service groups. And it's kind of the way where all the events, all the logistics, are streamlined through. And it makes

Pooja Popuri: as well as of other service groups.

Pooja Popuri: much more, easier, easier, yeah, easier to organize, easier to

Pooja Popuri: propose events. And we have, like this system called a

Pooja Popuri: a proposal form, where we have all the groups that want to have an event any kind of scale, small scale, large scale a trip, even go through this process. And then we have reps from service code that will meet with them separately, support them, each

Pooja Popuri: support each proposal individually, so that it's successful and they're guided, but not and not left completely alone in that process. And what I think is really special is that because we have this we're able to actually identify. If there's a need for the proposal, because it's going through so many different eyes, there's a lot of different perspectives which makes it builds it into something that

Pooja Popuri: can have the greatest potential it could be. And at the same time Service Co. Provides a lot of resources that facilitates your work. So not only do we help you connect with the relevant stakeholders within the school, but you can organize. You can ask for things at transportation, or if your group is short on funds, you can ask for a loaner, grant through our service bank or service fund.

Pooja Popuri: So, being able to get that level of support through an organization that is countable like service. Co means a lot to Syls and groups.

Pooja Popuri: Yeah, yeah.

Scott Jamieson (he/him): I think it's so cool to have some of these kind of structures in place to really kind of support these different organizations. And, Fuji. You were talking about leadership

Scott Jamieson (he/him): and the thinking about service code. You know, what is the how

Scott Jamieson (he/him): How have you developed your leadership skills through your work with your own organizations and through Service Co. And why? Why is that so important on to you as high school students?

Pooja Popuri: For me. Personally, I've I've always kind of been the person that took charge. Whether it may have been small group projects or within the class, and I feel like, after I came to this it was at a larger magnitude. So what I was actually doing while I was supporting what I was facilitating made a real impact within my community and just

Pooja Popuri: kind of witnessing that really impacted me as an individual as well to be able to see tangible impact from your actions is

Pooja Popuri: such an honor and such a great opportunity, if you like, and personally as a leader.

Pooja Popuri: it's not more of, I tell people what to do, but I rather encourage conversation for all of us to have an opinion, and all of us to work together to achieve a greater goal.

Scott Jamieson (he/him): Love! It.

Pooja Popuri: And for my experience with leadership, I think it's

Pooja Popuri: also what Pouja said, but also like logistics and things like that. It was just really challenging me to like, organize things better, and also be able to handle like what Puja said, like conversations in a way that's not like restricting, but in a way where it allows a lot of different perspectives.

Pooja Popuri: Tricky. Yeah, it's tricky to balance that

Pooja Popuri: for me. I'm actually the opposite of puja. When I first came into this 4 years ago, I wasn't the type of student to raise my hand and actually take on the leadership role. But I think, my friends and my first service group that I joined motivated me to actually take initiative. And I think that's a really important part of service, because your friends can actually really motivate you and go into something that you are passionate about and discover your real passions. Yeah, I think that's really important.

Pooja Popuri: Yeah. And I also think like leadership at NIST in service groups is special because we're also helping the next like generation of students to also become leaders. Because when we graduate, most of these service groups don't die, they don't fade away. It's it's because of this, like

Pooja Popuri: special way. We kind of lead service group we teach them whilst we lead as well. And then we have this kind of like process that allows these new, the new generation of students to become leaders of these group, these service groups that are like

Pooja Popuri: equally as capable and even more capable than we were before. Exactly. In fact, I think I'm probably the

Pooja Popuri: fourth or first

Pooja Popuri: generational leader for my group. I think we've been working with our community partner for

Pooja Popuri: I think, at least since the mid 20 tens. I think possibly longer. Yeah. And like, Mini was saying before, the whole concept of leading by example is, I think, what keeps us accountable because

Pooja Popuri: it's also motivates us to like, do better, and to make sure that we're trying our best because there are implications. If we do make a mistake. But it's not the fact that.

Pooja Popuri: like it's not non redevable, but it's rather a place to grow from and look to learn from.

Scott Jamieson (he/him): I love how you're talking about this growth as is leaders in your school, but also that sustainability piece, and how you approach leadership as a collaboration. And we sometimes talk about that as constellation approach, where everyone is a leader. And we're highlighting the strengths of the different people in our groups and really working collaboratively to kind of reach our goals and having that sustainability. So when amazing people like you graduate.

Scott Jamieson (he/him): which is always challenging for schools, you never stick around very long, you know. It's all off to the next thing. But being able to kinda have that momentum and continue that with new leaders coming in to take that place. And we see, you know, relationships with community partners that are lasting a decade like that's amazing. It's so cool.

Scott Jamieson (he/him): And that's kinda leading me into my next question thinking about that. You guys have so many opportunities at your school, and I'm so inspired listening to just how passionate you are about the work you're doing.

Scott Jamieson (he/him): thinking about. A lot of our listeners are teachers or students from other schools. And

Scott Jamieson (he/him): how might they get something like this started at their school. Maybe they don't have a lot of relationships with community partners. They don't really have a lot of service learning opportunities in their school. What are some things they might be able to do to start building towards culture the like you have at your school.

Pooja Popuri: Well, I think it's kind of the same way we all were drawn to the service groups. It's finding, like a group of like minded people that are interested in a similar topic, but also looking at the community around you, what

Pooja Popuri: do they need, or what does your environment need? And it's taking the 2 and then putting that together. And then, if

Pooja Popuri: you find a group of people that has like the will to do that, I think it will most likely happen, and then that will kind of be like, I think the spark really to any other projects that you want to do

Pooja Popuri: to look at. I'm sorry to look at it from a bit more of an organizational point of view. It is definitely, really hard to get it up and running. I would definitely say that those first initial years are the hardest, and we didn't have to go through that because it's such foundational within our school because it's already established.

Pooja Popuri: But if there's any schools that are not they that don't have any concept of service learning or service initiatives, it's definitely hard to get started, but I think at the core of it is passion and interest, and once you have that, once you get the support of your students, with your teachers, with the leadership team of parents and a lot more. Other people

Pooja Popuri: like everyone has to come together for it to be able to work.

Pooja Popuri: I think that

Pooja Popuri: a lot of schools already have significant service requirements. Or, for example, we, we see schools where

Pooja Popuri: you might say that there are 2 or 300. You need to do 2 or 300 h of service to graduate, and that means that most schools, I think, already have a foundation or a requirement or in eagerness to learn to do service. Oftentimes, I think, what would be very helpful to making that sustainable across different

Pooja Popuri: year levels and across different graduating classes is just have a some cohesion and interdependence within the school community. So if we get high school students work with middle school students. Or we put a system in place where there's a clear structure of succession. There are clear organizations called service groups or service clubs. Whatever do you like to call them that will

Pooja Popuri: that will really help students help students facilitate service learning and cooperate with each other much more

Pooja Popuri: so, I think, in that sense

Pooja Popuri: facilitating and enabling students to corporate.

Pooja Popuri: Is a very, very important part to

Pooja Popuri: creating a community like us. And just to add on, there are like we had a we had a session on this at aircos as well. We had. There's a lot of resources that are online that you might not be available

Pooja Popuri: that might not be in your mind at this moment. But then, for example, compass education has a lot of great resources in terms of different frameworks and structures that are already created, that all you have to do is implement at your school. There's a lot of networks that teachers are privy to that you can also access. So I think, if you look for it, support is always there.

Pooja Popuri: And I would say, like, if you find the opportunity of what you're passionate about. You should go for it, for example, if you're passionate in service in general, but don't know what to do. You can participate in service, for example, that we annually host and in Thailand, and I think you should go for anything that you see that you are even like slightly passionate about.

Pooja Popuri: And so you can actually find your interest and move forward with it. Yeah. And on that note, I think it's

Pooja Popuri: important that

Pooja Popuri: we encourage risk taking. So if you're interested in something, just go into your community and take a look at

Pooja Popuri: if there are any service opportunities within your surrounding community, there's no need, for there isn't a need necessarily for you to go out and talk about gigantic issues or tablet something on a global scale which you could. But if you want to start a service group, you can always look again to your local community.

Pooja Popuri: Yeah, service can be something as small as just going out and helping a community partner or some sort of grassroots organization within your community.

Scott Jamieson (he/him): I think that's such great advice, because a lot of times we think about especially thinking about through the lens and sustainable development goals. We've got these big, massive global issues, and they seem a little bit overwhelming. But we can kind of bring that down and think, you know, what does that look like right here in my community.

Scott Jamieson (he/him): And what might we, as students, you know, offer to kind of move that needle in a positive direction? I think there's a lot of opportunities like you say

Scott Jamieson (he/him): that we might be able to get involved and really make a difference. Every here in our global community, like right near our school, or even within our school. In some cases, you know, thinking about, especially with younger students. They're looking at opportunities right within our school.

Scott Jamieson (he/him): or we might be able to have an impact.

Scott Jamieson (he/him): Now, you guys have accomplished so many amazing things. And I'm so inspired listening to the stories of your work with your community partners within your organizations.

Scott Jamieson (he/him): What are some of your aspirations while you're still at NIST for the next year or 2? What are some things that goals you have that you'd like to achieve before you graduate.

Pooja Popuri: I think, for me

Pooja Popuri: in particular to what I do in Feminist, while we do have a strong foundation. I think there's so much more that we can expand to and so much more potential we could eventually reach. And I feel like one of the key things that I do wanna emphasize more and work towards more, is a lot like collaboration in terms of just connecting with other service groups at my own school, and

Pooja Popuri: to have a collective

Pooja Popuri: kind of effort in terms of different events or different initiatives or products. Even so that it's just a lot more widespread outreach which will make a lot more impact.

Pooja Popuri: And for me personally, that's just a goal for me.

Pooja Popuri: For us. So for angel wishes

Pooja Popuri: right now, we're actually on a new project idea. So it's about this doll making idea. So we really wanted to have like a more direct impact on cancer patients. And we had this really special opportunity to be asked to design some dolls, and possibly even like make it for these young

Pooja Popuri: cancer patients that are feeling kind of nervous, scared to go through these pro processes of like chemotherapy. And so that's something we really want to focus on is creating these dolls and then making that as a resource for the community partners that we work with, and then providing them with this kind of

Pooja Popuri: yeah sense of comfort.

Pooja Popuri: And

Pooja Popuri: for me, yeah, adding onto angel wishes and just service in general. I really want to be able to connect with other international schools as well, because we have a lot of opportunities. And as an example, Pink Tober, the reason why we started it was because of the annual conference called Service and we connected with Wells and Ics, I think.

Pooja Popuri: and we were able to accomplish the event. And I think I want to do another one where we brought in our audience and get to connect with a couple of more international schools as well.

Pooja Popuri: I think, for helping hearts are

Pooja Popuri: short-term goals would definitely be sustainability. We want to be able to reach many more students within the school in terms of getting younger, even younger students to to participate

Pooja Popuri: expanding our middle school base. But on the long run. I think that we want to look at

Pooja Popuri: ways in which we

Pooja Popuri: can really reflect about our work. We want to know that we want to see if our work is really making a difference. And whether or not we're solving problems at the root of the problem rather than being performative and just simply donating goods, and

Pooja Popuri: so on. So

Pooja Popuri: I think that

Pooja Popuri: that would be what we're pivoting towards. I think a school in general. We also do want to go towards that direction, even more so than we are right now.

Scott Jamieson (he/him): That sounds so amazing. And I'm so excited. For you know all that you guys have accomplished, and all these things that are going to be coming up in the next little while. I I think both, you know, sustainable development goal target 4.7 education for global citizenship and sustainability. That's really how kind of inspire citizens that was kind of our call to action.

Scott Jamieson (he/him): And you guys are what that looks like. Like. That's what this is. This this work you are doing is is so amazing, and I'm so inspired and so impressed and

Scott Jamieson (he/him): so grateful to have had the opportunity to connect with all of you, and I'm hoping I can get back for another visit to your school and continue to see all the impact that you're having with your community partners. So thank you so much for being such fabulous guests and sharing your story and expertise. And I think it'd be so cool if you guys were able to connect with more schools and kind of share some of your work, and just grow that as we continue to grow our networks so amazing. And thank you.

Pooja Popuri: Thank you so much, so much.

Scott Jamieson (he/him): Branch.

Scott Jamieson (he/him): Sorry it's more buttons than it used to be.

Leadership Through Community Engagement At NIST
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