Action to Service

Service at WISS encourages students to help the community, either locally, nationally, or globally. At the Western International School of Shanghai, we believe that doing and experiencing is a key component of meaningful learning. As IB learners, through service, we together strive to be caring members of the community who demonstrate a personal commitment to service, and act to make a positive difference to the lives of others and to the environment.

Service in Early Years

Through Units of Inquiry, the ideas of responsibility and sustainability are instilled in WISS’s youngest learners. Our Pre-K students work with materials and focus on recycling. This encourages our students to look at materials in a very different way and recycle what they can. Pre-K students are taught to identify materials and their properties which will lead to the Kindergarten unit of “Sharing the Planet”.

In Kindergarten, students identify water pollution and land pollution on campus and decide the ways they can help fix these issues through the “Sharing the Planet” unit. This learning through service and action gives students the skills to begin observing the natural environment, understanding the impact that we have on it, and how they can create change. Identifying the rubbish around them and taking the necessary steps to clean this up builds student agency through inquiry, action, and service.

Our Early Years students have also planted and cared for trees on campus, grown a garden, and built a worm farm. These projects teach students awareness of their role in nature, as well as skills in caring, responsibility, and sustainability.

Service in Primary

Action Cubs in the Western International School of Shanghai is a group of students in Grades 2-5 that plants the seeds of service, caring, and creating change. Action Cubs is a student-driven club that encourages students to make changes within our WISS school community.

The students are focused on creating a vision for change and then using the proper process to make those changes happen. Action Cubs identify problems and needs within the school, come up with solutions, propose their solution to school leaders, and take action to make changes in our community.

Action Cubs are broken up into 6 committees that focus on a variety of needs:

  • Environmental Committee
    Focuses on environmental issues around school
    • worked to remove single-use plastic utensils from the WISS Canteen and Cafes
    • educates teachers on waste in the classroom

  • Recess Improvement Committee
    Concentrates on improving recess experience for students
    • organized a Spring Basketball Tournament for Primary students
    • proposed the purchase of a variety of new recess equipment

  • Food Committee
    Works with Canteen to improve school food
    • meets regularly with Canteen Manager to provide suggestions

  • Spaces Committee
    Looks at how we use our spaces around the school
    • created a comfortable recess space called The Nook

  • School-wide Committee
    Explores on issues that affect the whole school
    • looked at how the library is used during recess time
    • currently examining the school’s homework policy

  • Events Committee
    Coordinates event planning around the school
    • planned Caring Week to promote kindness in the WISS community
    • planning a STEAM*D Fair so students can share their talent in the science and technology areas

Service in Secondary

Examples of past projects include:

The MYP aims to help WISS students develop their personal understanding, emerging sense of self, and growing responsibility in the community. Service is a valuable experience allowing our students to continue to increase awareness of their strengths and areas for growth, to undertake new challenges, to plan and initiate activities, to work collaboratively with others, to show perseverance and commitment, to engage with locally and globally significant challenges, and to consider the ethical implications of their actions.

In MYP, students are introduced to the UN Sustainable Development Goals as a framework for service. Students choose a sustainable goal based on a developmental goal and find a need in the community that applies to the goal. Explore China has a component of community service to support WISS’s philosophy of caring and to introduce them to different needs in China which will hopefully inspire them to bring these initiatives and projects back to Shanghai.

Examples of past projects include:

  • fundraising to provide clothes and toys to migrant children for the Giving Tree Program
  • student led tutoring in Chinese, Korean, and Spanish
  • recycling and upcycling activities for Earth Week
  • tree planting in Inner Mongolia as part of the Grade 10 Explore China Trip
Jolene, Sara, and Madison iShare is a collaborative group where students come together and try to benefit the school community. We got involved with iShare because we wanted to benefit our school, help plan events, bring morale up, and have more interaction between different grades. We try to plan activities that students will enjoy like our red packet event where students and teachers could send messages and chocolates to other students and teachers. This was a way to celebrate Chinese New Year and make people feel good. Now we are doing Earth Week where students can come out to the field and paint reusable cloth bags.

Read about more student's experiences with IBMYP Service.

Service in IBDP and IBCP

IBDP and IBCP students are required to successfully complete CAS in order to obtain an IB diploma. CAS is designed to strengthen
and extend students’ personal and interpersonal learning. It is a journey of discovery of self and others. It is organized around three strands of creativity, activity, and service.

Students are required to conduct service locally or internationally (outside of WISS walls). Local interactions allow for developing relationships, observing and participating in sustained change, and meeting challenges through collaboration. This requirement is for a minimum of one semester each year of the two-year Diploma.

Many WISS students choose to focus on our local community. Through their joint effort to clean up Xujing (partnering with students from a local orphanage), students have a goal of giving back to their community and help to make Shanghai a better place to live.

Examples of past projects include:

  • Beach Cleaning
  • GAIL (Global Alliance for Innovative Learning)
  • Giving Tree
  • Sunday Football Camp
  • Saturday School
  • Visiting Orphanages
  • Performing at Hospice
Laura I think that the greatest achievement that I am fortunate to have taken away from my CAS experience is connection. Because of CAS, I was able to socio-culturally connect myself with the environment in which I live. China is such a versatile country, filled with culture, CAS has helped me both improve my understanding of its history and its language. During one of my CAS activities, “Singing at a nearby Hospice” we were able to have conversations with some of the elderly people staying at the hospice and it was overwhelmingly touching.
Asha My challenge was finding a balance between all three activity types. I do a lot of performing so creativity was no problem, but finding time to do service was difficult. CAS also pushed me out of my comfort zones and into things that I never thought I would accomplish - all these activities in only 2 short years. I’m very proud of my accomplishments and they are all meaningful to me. They have contributed to my DP experience greatly, I really enjoyed doing CAS. Although it was a lot of work, it was a memorable experience.

Service Committee

Student Council is an opportunity for students in Grades 6-10 to become involved in leadership in the WISS community. The Service Committee brings new service initiatives to the school and they’re working to make the campus greener, more eco-friendly, and sustainable.

Saturday School

Saturday School is a teacher-initiated program begun in 2008 by a teacher who wanted to teach a few local farm students. Since then Saturday School has grown into a program with 30-60 weekly volunteers and more than a 100 local Xujing students. The purpose of Saturday School is for local students to have the opportunity to learn English. Members from every facet of the WISS community; including parents, primary students, secondary students, and teachers participate. It is important that our young people learn to help those around them and in doing so increase their own skills, confidence, and understanding.

Saturday School instills service, caring, and responsibility in our student volunteers, while helping the local students get an English-immersion experience. Any member of the WISS community who wants to be a part of Saturday School has that opportunity. If you are interested in volunteering with Saturday School, contact our Saturday School Coordinator, Jae Oh, at