UWS Newsletter – May 2020

Teach the Unreached

UWS and ISY working 4 SDG 4

ISY United World Schools, Service Learning Groups

The Latest news from Wan Kaung Village

This post has been created by Cindy (Class of 2024), Sammy (Class of 2022), Bridget (Class of 2022) and Kaily (Class of 2023).

Update about the School – Kailly

The ISY’s Wan Kaung School Partnership students are thrilled to announce the conclusion of a successful year for this amazing project as we have reached our target of raising $10,000 USD. We have come a long way and accomplished a lot this year including the establishment of the school, a visit by ISY students to Wan Kaung Village, several fundraising events, and more. As many of you may be aware, for a ten-year period, ISY is committed to supporting the Wang Kaung Village project in partnership with UWS. We have successfully reached the end of our second year in this partnership and would like to say thank you to everyone who has supported this project over the past two years. We hope that you will continue to do so for the next eight years to come, in which our goal is to raise $10,000 each year. Please look forward to what the Wan Kaung School Partnership students at ISY have planned for next year. Once again, thank you to everyone for your support and congratulations on reaching our target!

To review, as of November 2019, the construction of Wan Kaung Village School had been completed and children in the village had even started learning in their new classrooms. We, the ISY community, are providing free quality education for the children of Wan Kaung and to do this, the donations we raise each year cover the costs of a teacher salary, school supplies, building maintenance, and educational materials for the school. Even as we are working towards raising these funds, Wan Kaung Village School is still facing one major challenge – the language barrier.

This is a challenge that UWS faces on a daily basis and not just with Wan Kaung Village School but other UWS schools in Palaung and Lahu villages. By visiting these villages, Ellen Smith, UWS Senior Associate of Partnerships, noticed that most of the time, many adults in these villages do not speak the national language (Burmese). Since Myanmar is a country of great ethnic diversity and over 100 languages, UWS faces a series of things that are important to take into consideration when establishing schools in the villages, especially as they are committed to preserving local languages and cultures. As a result, they are tasked with designing an education system that can include speakers across this vast range of languages. For now, UWS is tackling this challenge with community teachers trained in both languages to bring the children access to the national curriculum.

The children in these communities are striving and brimming with enthusiasm to learn Burmese, as Ellen Smith states, so they may one day become leaders in their community that are able to communicate externally which may allow everyone in the community to prosper. However, UWS still believes that supporting the children in their mother tongue, not only brings benefits to their academics but also their overall wellbeing. The question right now is: how can UWS best enable the learning of Burmese in the most responsible, sustainable, and beneficial way possible? We must continue to support UWS for the next eight years by raising $10,000 or more each year, to improve the quality of education for indegineous children so they too can access education and future opportunities as others can.

UWS Article – Exploring the Language Challenge

Fundraisers Review – Cindy

We’ve come a long way, considering we just started UWS at ISY last school year. The Wan Kaung school that we’ve dedicated our money to help build was built in November. We hosted our 2nd annual Sports-a-Thon as well as our 2nd annual Family Fun Night. We had a Christmas Bazaar on the day of the school winter concert. But most importantly, a large group of students from ISY visited the Wan Kaung school and gained invaluable and unforgettable experiences.

Fortunately, the visit to Wan Kaung Village and all of our fundraisers took place before the school closure. We’re proud to have met our fundraising goal of $10,000 this year. We will use this money to continue helping the children in Wan Kaung and running our events. We’re also proud to expand the UWS-Wan Kaung partnership ASAs not only to high school students but also to middle and elementary school students.

Last year was all about raising enough money to help build the school, but this year was all about building lasting connections with these children. We plan to continue building these connections next year and for many years to come. We look forward to having more people join us in creating change and continuing to help these children further their education.

UWS Covid-19 Response – Bridget

Covid-19 has affected everyone in Myanmar one way or another, but the pandemic will undoubtedly hit communities in poverty the hardest. Despite the global pandemic, UWS has not stopped its objective to “teach the unreached” and, instead, is trying to adapt. The increasing safety measures in Myanmar is having a considerable socio-economic impact. Moreover, the response to Covid-19 is not only a health issue, but also an education issue. Therefore, following UWS’s model to embed itself into communities, they have been working through the community with the help of local teachers to maintain safety and education. 

There are three key areas that UWS is focusing on: clean water and sanitation, awareness, and education. Access to safe water and soap has been a priority to establish and repair in all the communities in partnership with UWS in order to prevent the spread of the virus. Furthermore, the local teachers have been spreading awareness by being sources of information for the Wan Kaung community and communicating key public health messages. In addition, in communities like Wan Kaung, education at home is especially hard without technology. However, education has not stopped. For example, currently, the local teachers in Wan Kaung are reading the children’s book, “My Hero is You,” to teach mental health and ways to cope with Covid-19. Overall, UWS is continuing to adapt to Covid-19 by working through the community and putting safety at the core of their approach. As the crisis progresses, UWS needs all the help they can get to support the communities that lack support to effectively respond to the crisis, not only in Myanmar, but also in Cambodia, and Nepal. Check out the latest Covid-19 Response Report provided by United World Schools.

Plans for the Future / How You Can Help – Sammy

Although you may be socially distanced at home, you can always help! Here are some of the easiest ways you can do so:

  • Help us get a “head-start” on next year’s fundraising efforts by Sponsoring a Wan Kaung Student. It only costs $10 USD or 15,000 MMK to sponsor a student’s educational needs for a month.
  • Brainstorm ways to help our partner school with ways they can safely social distance at school through this time of Covid-19 concerns. Let us know what you come up with (email suggestions to Mr. Todd Davis at todavis@isyedu.org)
  • Spread awareness about UWS by sharing this newsletter with all your friends.
  • Set up a virtual fundraiser for UWS Wan Kaung School, and ask your friends and family to help out.

More than ever, schools like our Wan Kaung Partner School are in need of help right now. Please take the opportunity to play your part by helping us help UWS!

United World Schools 2019-20 Fundraising Goal and Status. 

We did it!

Created using the Donation Thermometer plugin https://wordpress.org/plugins/donation-thermometer/.10,000Raised 10,000 towards the 10,000 target.10,000Raised 10,000 towards the 10,000 target.100%

Plans for the Future

Chinthes, as we end the school-year having accomplished both our fundraising goals and the establishment of a community connection with our partner school, we look forward to next year to do the same and more!

For our partner school, we will be organizing community events such as Family Fun Night, and hope to make them enjoyable and fun events for all. Just as in past years, we look forward to seeing many of our community members at them, and to collectively work towards our fundraising goal. With our newly strengthened connections with our partner school, we will gear our efforts towards their needs and to more successfully introduce those personal connections and needs of the Wan Kaung school with our community.

In our own community, we will strive to create connections between secondary and elementary students at ISY in working for UWS, and to continually update our teams with what we will be doing for UWS. As always, through our newsletter and various other forms of media, we will be communicating with you about our efforts and updates regarding our partner school. Additionally, we hope to provide our students with more opportunities to connect with UWS. As some take on the roles of UWS Student Ambassadors, we anticipate that more will be inclined to join UWS and support our partner school. When it is safe to do so, we hope to be able to go back to Wan Kaung Village, and to allow our communities to build stronger bonds. With that, we look forward to seeing you in the next school year!

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