The relief efforts for Sichuan Earthquake from inDulwich Suzhou In 2008, Sichuan Province in south western China was rocked by a massive earthquake that flattened towns, cities and killed thousands of people. It was a tragedy that at the time moved China and world. In addition, thousands of children lost their lives and families and many more were traumatized by the destruction of numerous schools in the region. In response to this tragedy, the students of the Dulwich College International family, including London, carried out significant fundraising, community support and relief efforts. Among the large international relief effort, the Swiss community supported the building of a new Early Years school in a small town called Long Xing, part of the city of Chongzhou. To support the project, the Dulwich College group invited six of their teachers from three local schools to help retrain their faculty in Early Years education. Two teachers went to each Dulwich College for 6 months and learned how to create interactive and interesting learning experiences for the children. Each College enjoyed seeing the teachers become confident educators through this relationship. As part of their annual "Book Month" event Dulwich College Suzhou raised money to provide funds for the Long Xing kindergarten library. Over 26,000rmb was raised. However, it was evident that there was a problem with the delivery of the funds, so the DCSZ IB students were asked to travel to Sichuan and use the money to refurbish and stock the library as part of their Community Action Service (CAS) programme. The Suzhou students got to work by planning the refurbishment and it was evident that they wanted a library just like the one at Dulwich College. The students started purchasing the resources needed. They bought a computer for loans, designed a simple loan software system and bought a lot of books. When they arrived in Chengdu, they again went shopping for furniture and more books. The students enjoyed the chance to find quality resources at bargain prices. Once they arrived at the school in Long Xing, they went about covering the books, entering them into the loan software system, moving in all the furniture and creating new reading spaces. By the end of the first day it was evident that they needed a lot more furnishings such as carpets and cushions. So again they went shopping and the funds started to finally whittle down. To support the learning of the children, the IB CAS students invited classes into the new library to read them stories, explain the rules, let them enjoy the books and soft toys and use the book loan system. Their reward was huge pride from their efforts and the chance to see their new creation be used by the children of Long Xing.
The Long Xing school staff were extremely happy about the way the spaces were arranged, the colour scheme the students selected and the new loan system. They even commented that it was even better than the best school library in the larger town school. This was a wonderful way to finish a truly collaborative project through the Dulwich group and the support of such a human tragedy that was the Sichuan earth quake disaster of 2008. Thanks to Mr Jason Stuckey, CAS Coordinator DCSZ, for this article and images