AISA Honours Students & Educators with 2024 Service Awards

POSTED: March 1, 2024Category: GeneralBY: Steve

At the 2024 AISA Global Issues Service Summit (AISA-GISS), hosted by Al-Rayan International School in Accra, Ghana, the AISA Service Awards were presented to several students and schools. This year, we also celebrated a brand new award, the AISA Service Learning School Programme Award. It was wonderful to recognize and honour impactful service learning initiatives from across the AISA region.

Three students were recognized with the Connie Buford Student Service Leader Award. These are students who have demonstrated exemplary commitment to service and community engagement and are inspiring others to be active global citizens. Meet the winners for 2024 by reading some excerpts from their nominations:

  • Shanzeh Haider – American International School of Johannesburg, South Africa
    As Shanzeh’s service learning advisor Tiwana Merrit wrote in the award nomination, “Shanzeh Haider is an inspirational force within the AISJ community”. Over the past five years, she has dedicated herself to a personal project aimed at raising awareness about gender-based violence (GBV). What initially began as an 8th-grade Human Rights unit project has since evolved into an enduring campaign committed to eradicating GBV in South Africa. Shanzeh’s profound understanding of this issue has deepened through her exploration of the UN Sustainable Development Goals, particularly Goals 3 and 5 (Good Health/Wellbeing and Gender Equality), and her collaborative efforts with various service partners. Shanzeh has been a pivotal figure in AISJ’s community service initiatives throughout her time at the school. She serves as a valued member of the service learning council and as a leader for Project Dignity. In this role, she collaborates with her peers to raise awareness and educate the community about crucial topics such as period poverty, hygiene, and healthy relationships.
  • Malaika Adam-Samura – Rosslyn Academy, Kenya
    Malaika is an outstanding leader involved in several service projects at Rosslyn Academy. She is the president and founder of The Midas Green Project, an environmental club that has taken steps to reduce the school’s carbon footprint and inspire discussion within the community about the environment. She also co-founded and manages the “BiWeekly,” a student newsletter that magnifies student voices on Rosslyn’s campus. To build on this desire to highlight student voice, she also started a podcast called “The Teen Spark” and she is a member and Communications Director of Project Imagine, a club that focuses on Period Poverty in Kenya. Recently, Malaika led a team of students in designing and creating an app called “HomeHelp,” which is designed to connect potential employers with domestic workers in Kenya. This app provides a very practical solution for a need within the Kenyan community.
  • Anoushka De – Lincoln Community School, Ghana
    Anoushka is involved in many service endeavours at Lincoln Community School. The project she focussed on for her nomination this year was REMAR (Rehabilitation of People on the Margin of Society). Anoushka has worked extensively with this organization. She also started Project REY (REMAR Empowering the Youth) where she designed and taught, with the help of partnering organizations, a three-phase curriculum about keyboarding, basic computer software, and the interview skills required for entry-level tech jobs. Anoushka started off mentoring three peers (16 – 19-year-old boys), but as the project further developed, seven more boys joined the program. When Anoushka realized she didn’t have enough laptops to teach everyone, she organized a laptop drive at Lincoln and was able to get 5 laptops. Anoushka is thrilled to report that three of her mentees successfully cleared interviews with a business process outsourcing company and have joined the company.

AISA awarded two groups of students with the Outstanding Service Project Award this year. These projects demonstrate commitment to sustainable community partnerships, inclusion, equity and awareness of root causes. The projects honoured with this award for 2024 are:

  • Water Sanitation in Schools – International School of Tanganyika, Tanzania
    This project started when the city of Dar es Salaam encountered a water shortage from December 2021 to January 2022. While the IST campus was able to maintain a consistent water supply with the use of a well, many of our community partners struggled to access potable water through the Dar es Salaam Water Supply and Sanitation Authority (DAWASA). Water trucks were being used to deliver water around the city to make up for the shortage but most reports were that the water was ‘brackish’ and not suitable for drinking or even cooking. Students from IST set out to help community partners advocate for better water, one being Oysterbay Primary School, a government English medium school down the road that has been a long-term partner. This service project involved interviews with local partners, advocacy work at IST and beyond, and principles of reciprocity. IST and Oysterbay students serve on a joint group now, and student leaders from both schools are working towards making plans and providing infrastructure that will help to improve water use and sanitation at both schools even in drought or flood conditions.
  • ICSA Aquaponics – International Community School of Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire
    This project consisted of students creating an aquaponics system prototype to be replicated in local schools. The ICSA students’ goal has been to empower local youth with sustainable agriculture skills as a means to combat hunger. The team collaborated with other members of the community for expert support such as the school plumber and the electrician when building the system. They also directly contacted and negotiated with local businesses to purchase materials for building the system. The students chose to collaborate with SOS Village d’Abobo, a long-term service partner to ICSA. Members of the SOS Village community have visited the system several times and have had discussions with ICSA students about how it works, and the partners have collaboratively drawn plans for implementing the system on the SOS Village site.

The new AISA Service Learning School Programme Award recognizes a school that has invested time, resources and energy into building a cohesive and impactful PreK-12 curricular service learning program, and it was exciting to honour the Aga Khan Academy, Mombasa with this award.

The Aga Khan Academy, Mombasa is a school with an excellent all-school approach to service learning. Here are some highlights that show how much service learning is valued at this school:

  • they have allocated time in the schedule each week specifically for service learning
  • they have a yearly service learning calendar for each grade level which includes planning time for teachers and mentors so they can approach service learning thoughtfully and purposefully
  • they have sustainable community partners in a variety of fields (like social entrepreneurship, NGOs and local schools). The partners work consistently with specific grade levels
  • they encourage student voice, choice and agency, and many successful experiences have been designed and led by students
  • they value local voices and include members of the community like their gardeners who were honoured and thanked by the grade 7 class this year
  • there is a year 6 and 8 service mentorship program with community partners in the civil society realm
  • the reflections by students and staff included in the application for the 2024 School Program Award were heartfelt and moving and truly demonstrate the impact that service learning is having at Aga Khan Academy Mombasa

There were many additional nominations for the 2024 AISA Service Awards that demonstrated deep commitment by students and educators across the region to service learning, active global citizenship and community engagement. Congratulations to all of the 2024 award winners!

Applications and nominations for the 2025 AISA Service Awards will open in the spring and close in October 2024. If you are involved with service learning at your school, please check the AISA website and the Service Learning community for more information and details.

Written by:

LeeAnne Lavender
AISA Service Learning Program Coordinator

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