Service Summit 2011: Expanding the Wave of Student Action


The 5th Service Summit was held at HKIS on December 3, 2011.  The main purpose of this annual event has been to inspire 9th-grade students in Humanities I in Action to design their own community-based “Elixir” project.  In groups of 4 or less, 9th grade students in Humanities I in Action are expected to create their own project that make some kind of difference in themselves, school life, or the broader community.  However, in the last two years, we have expanded the event’s focus by inviting other students and even other schools to attend.

To begin this year’s Service Summit, I shared that I had been at a recent dinner with a small group of friends and acquaintances, and the conversation turned to global concerns.  One man, a leader in the environmental movement, remarked that there seemed to be a “tidal wave” of problems facing our world and he mentioned a list of such concerns.  I was struck by his choice of metaphor, however, for it is the very same one that has come to me this year as I consider how our HKIS students are responding to global issues. There seems to me to be a “tidal wave” of interest in community engagement to counter these social concerns. HKIS students in our classes seem to sense that “business as usual” where our foremost concerns are personal – my grades, my college admissions, my personal future – is no longer existentially viable.  Personal futures cannot be considered apart from collective realities.  This year’s Service Summit again demonstrated students’ concern about and engagement with these realities.

What a Difference a Year Makes
The most amazing story to emerge from last year’s Summit, which we celebrated at this year’s event, was how two then-8th graders, Brittany Fried (pictured below) and Carolyn Scown, raised enough money to build a new “Me to We” school in Kenya.

  The two girls had attended last year’s Summit and were inspired by the “Me to We” and “Free the Children” presenters, Alex Meers and Leah Ruinsky.   Their write-up for their presentation at this year’s summit explains further:

Last year in eighth grade, Caroline and I were inspired to bring something new to our school: a Vow of Silence. The Vow of Silence is an event where you go silent to represent the millions of people in the world whose say is not listened to, and whose voice is not heard. Our Middle School students raised sponsorships for their silence, and in the end, we raised over HKD$85,000 (USD$11,000) – enough to build a school in Kenya, provide teacher training and a 6-month lunch program, textbooks and furniture, as well as purchase a goat for a family!

Last summer Brittany participated in a “Free the Children” trip to Kenya and she was able to help build a school that was similar to the one that she raised money for.  She was even able to visit “her” school site, although the building was not completeat that point.

Sharing this story was an inspiring kick-off to this year’s Service Summit.

Brittany participated in a “Free the Children” school build in central Kenya during the summer, 2010.  Following their building of the foundation, local people completed the school. This school is similar to the one that Brittany and Caroline raised money for and which is now operating in Kenya only a year after the idea idea emerged in the girls’ thinking following the last year’s Service Summit.

Alumna Jamie Shih (2nd from right) is joined by Renaissance College’s Donna Chiu (far right) and HKIS sophomores Nicola Ho (far left) and Sarah Wang to share their Ember project, which raises funds to support bright, but underprivileged girls in China to stay in high school. 

Highlights of the 2011 Service Summit

 The 2011 Service Summit had a number of highlights that indicate its influence has expanded:

  • For the first time, three alumni presented at the Service Summit. Robbieana Leung of “LEAP Studios,” Jamie Shih of “Ember,” and Stephanie Tan of “Table for Two” all returned to HKIS to inform and inspire students.
  • For the first time, the Service Summit was an international event. Led by teachers Pat and Sue Frerking, a group of four middle school students came from Concordia International School Hanoi to participate in the Summit as well as spend a day out at Crossroads. Our other sister school, Concordia International School Shanghai, sent vice principal Karin Semler to consider future options for their school.  Karin is working on a three-year action plan to introduce service-learning across the CISS curriculum.
  • For the first time, other schools in Hong Kong participated.  Two groups came from Li Po Chun World College to present.  In addition, three students and a teacher, Charles Fok, from one of our Lutheran schools in Tseung Kwan O attended the event as well.
  • For the first time, our new Senator for Service, Vivienne Tsan, coordinated and spoke at the event.
  • More than any previous year, the majority of breakout sessions were made by older students speaking to younger students.  (See below for list of presentations.)
  • For the third year, highly skilled motivational speakers, Brittnei Berrisford and Jill Moorley, from “Me to We” and “Free the Children” were flown in from Canada for the event.
  • For the second year, middle schools students were a focus of the Summit.  Brittnei and Jill led a two-hour leadership workship for HKIS middle school students and the CISH students on Saturday morning.
  • For the first time, Jill and Brittnei spoke to a class of 4th graders.

In the last two years, “Me to We” facilitators have led a leadership retreat for middle school students to get them to dream big about their own plans for service. 

2011 Service Summit Program

This year’s program followed a similar format to previous years:

2:00-2:20       Introduction

2:20 – 3:00    Keynote Presentation: Brittnei from “Me to We”

3:05 – 3:20    Workshop #1

3:25-3:40       Workshop #2

3:45-4:00       Workshop #3

4:05-4:20       Workshop #4

4:25 – 4:40    Workshop #5

4:45 – 5:00    Final Debrief with Brittnei

Service Summit Break-Out Sessions

This year’s list of presentations included mostly older students sharing their projects with the 9th graders.  We were pleased to have a number of off-campus groups to join the Summit as well.  Below is the list of presenters at this year’s Service Summit:

  1. “Stop the Traffik” by James Rau: Fundraiser to stop human trafficking in South Asia
  2. “Vision First”: work with refugees in Hong Kong by Anabelle Singaram.
  3. “LEAP Studio” by Robbieana Leung: Teaching about social issues in Hong Kong to younger children
  4. “Lutheran Social Services” by Annissa Lui and Chloe Lee: Teaching English and visiting the elderly in the local Hong Kong schools and homes
  5. “Project Rovi” by Winona Desombre: Digital learning in Nepal
  6. “Table for Two” by Stephanie Tan and Jacqui Yeung: Matching meals purchased at participating Hong Kong restaurants with nutritious meals in another country.
  7. “Ember” by Jamie Shih, Donna Chu, Nicola Ho and Sarah Wang: Girls scholarship program in China
  8. “Reach” by Tiffany Sun and Charlotte Zhu: English and music lessons in local Hong Kong schools.
  9. “The Backpack Project” by Charley Legaspi, Vivian Kon, Senna Lamba, and Jacqui Yeung: Backpacks filled with supplies for poor students in Manila.
  10. “Amnesty International” by students from Li Po Chuen United World Colleg
  11.  “Global Issues Network” (GIN) by Beatrice Yeung and Danielle Park
  12. “Vow of Silence” by Brittany Fried and Caroline Scown: Their fundraiser last year resulted in the building of a school in Kenya.
  13. “Malapasca Children’s Fund” by Maddie Passamonte and Madyson Lyman: Establishment of a health station on a remote island in the Philippines.
  14.  “Adopt a Grand-Friend” by Carla Achkar, Gillian Wei, and Ashley Lee: Spending time with the elderly at a home in Sheung Wan.
  15. “Sunflower Seeds Rural Library Program” by Lynn Cai, founder of this project, and students Eliot Williams and Michelle Ling.
  16. “Cage-Dwellers” by Hetty Lee, student at Li Po Chuen United World College: Delivering blankets, donating rice, and writing a book to raise awareness are ways that Hetty is seeking to prove the lives of this disadvantaged group in HK.
  17. “Concordia Children’s Services” by Megan Kincaid: This orphanage in the Philippines is in need of a website-designer.
  18. “St. James Lutheran Kindergarten by Alicia Lamb: This is an English program in a kindergarten in a Chai Wan housing estate.
  19. “Water Project in China” by Christa Schmidt and Terri Yiu: Christa and Terri share how they raised funds to build a water system in rural China.
  20. “Somalia Famine” by Sarah Faruqui and Daisy Cheng: Raise awareness about this appalling event that has fallen off the front pages.


A final comment is in order for the purpose of expanding the HKIS vision of community engagement further.  A year ago our head of school received Board approval for an HKIS service learning center, which I suggest calling the “Jubilee Center for Global Action.”  The Service Summit is evidence that we continue to build the “software” for such a center, and we need to continue to consider future developments in this regard as an R-12 institution.  Given the enthusiasm for and proliferation of service activities at HKIS, we need a center sooner rather than later in order to direct students’ energies in the most effective direction. While that may or may not include a building project, it most certainly means more intentional coordination of programs and events.

Key leaders in the Service Summit’s success, Pat Frerking of CISS and Pion Ng, HKIS Service Coordinator

*                      *                      *                      *                      *                     *                     *                   *

Suggestions for Service Summit 2012:

  • Advertise at school to attract non-Humanities I in Action students
  • Presenters need to keep their audience in the room for the full 15 minutes.
  • Training for the presenters by the Senator for Service. Students need to be clear about their purpose:

1)   Informational/inspirational about a cause
2)  Recruit members for a current project
3)   Pass on a project to future members

  • Google Survey ahead of time could help determine the most popular presentations.  Presentations can be staggered.  Still need to decide if we want to combine presentations into rooms to reduce the total number of rooms or if we want to keep the rooms the same, but giving presenters break time.
  • We should include some projects on the environment next year.
  • Encourage exemplars of various “Elixir Project” categories

1) Change in my lifestyle
2) Change in school culture
3) Fundraising
4) Relational focus


About martinschmidtinasia

I have served as a humanities teacher at Hong Kong International School since 1990, teaching history, English, and religion courses. Since the mid-1990's I have also come to assume responsibility for many of the school's service learning initiatives. My position also included human care ministry with the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod in Hong Kong, southern China, and others parts of Asia from 1999-2014. Bringing my affluent students into contact with people served by the LCMS in Asia has proved to be beneficial to students and our community partners alike. Through these experience I have become committed to social conscience education, which gives students the opportunity to find their place in society in the context of challenging global realities.
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5 Responses to Service Summit 2011: Expanding the Wave of Student Action

  1. Alex Meers says:

    WOW! I am absolutely blown away by the excitement and social change that this conference, the humanities classes, and the work of HKIS students is generating. Last year I had the pleasure of attending this conference with Leah from Me to We, and we were so inspired. This year, Brittnei and Jill from Me to We, (who presented this year), came back with nothing but amazing things to say. I’m so excited to hear about how this movement continues to evolve and expand. Hearing about all of the efforts of HKIS students and educators like Mr. Schmidt truly has a global impact. All of your efforts are being heard accross the world!…literally…from Canada all the way to Kenya. 🙂 Congrats Brittany Fried and Carolyn Scown!

  2. Michael Lees says:

    This is SO impressive! There is so much evidence of passion, caring , social justice, continual improvement and more! I so very much look forward to participating in future Service Summits. Great job HKIS!

    • Thanks, Mike! Of course, credit goes to you for the first Service Summit that I attended at ASIG (Guangzhou) that inspired our SSes at HKIS. Glad to hear that you have carried this idea to southern Africa – and glad to have you back in China again next school year!

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  4. Pingback: Education for Transformation: Introducing Humanities I in Action | Social Conscience and Inner Awakening

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