This past week we had 26 St. John’s students volunteer at three different local organizations. In total, each of them volunteered 2-3 hours of their time, providing service and learning about two different causes. Two groups were assisting the elderly in senior homes (Brussels, Waterloo), and one returned to organize activities for children of asylum-seeking families (Alsemberg).

Thanks to the commitment and leadership of grade 11 students Namira, Anton, Jacob, Karolina, Maria and Megan, St. John’s is now committed to serving the community of asylum-seekers once every month during the academic year 2017-2018.

Below you can read the immediate reflection of a student who joined us for the first time last weekend.

Today, May 20th, I went with a group of students from St.Johns to the Alsemberg Asylum Home. Once we got there we first took a tour of some places in the center.

It was a lot different than what I was expecting; it felt like a hospital since all the rooms were very bare. The whole experience of getting to see how some people have to live for a year or so was really shocking since I did not expect that it would be as it was and also just thinking about if you were in that situation.

I think that actually getting to have this experience made me a lot more aware of what some people have to go through and it was a lot different than just hearing about it.

Seeing that there was not a lot to do there made me want to help more. After we took the tour we set up in the play room and then some of the kids came to play with us. At first I felt a little uncomfortable because I can be shy and also it was hard to communicate because not everyone spoke a lot of English; it was fine though. We did face paint, colouring, painting and other activities with the kids.

It was really nice seeing that we made them happy and all of them were so nice. A lot of the kids were asking when we would come back and it was nice knowing that they actually wanted us to come back and that they actually enjoyed having us there.

It was so difficult to leave because they were all so nice and at the end a bunch of kids were asking me to paint their faces but we had to leave since we were already late so I tried to do as much as I could quickly.

I definitely want to go back soon because I think that if we go there frequently it will be better since you could tell that the kids were at first shy since they did not really know us. I think that we really should try to go back often so that we can form better connections and be more helpful.

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I believe it was a great experience since it really allowed us to see what others have to go through. While we were in the center something that really had an impact on me was a painting done by someone from the center where it talked about the difficulties she and many others have faced. I definitely want to find more ways to help. I think next time we should go back with different toys and supplies though because a lot of the kids fought over taking the toys back so we either should not let them take any back and keep them only in the play room or get toys where each kid gets their own.

We could have a really great impact if we plan a little more.

Contributed by Chelsea, Grade 11

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