REAL Week leaves students drained but satisfied
Written by Ariana Jones
REAL week is a recurring, collaborative, five-day-event that incorporates specific real-life global issues into every RCHK student’s learning. For the Year 10’s, this year’s focus was the seventeen Sustainable Development Goals that were officially implemented two years ago by the UN. By the end of the week, students had created varying types of projects to follow up their interests in these goals.
The process behind the projects was a long one. The week was divided into many different stages. First off, there was the process of establishing an “individual focus”. Because there are so many goals, each broad and seemingly impossible to achieve (such as ‘Zero Hunger’ and ‘No Poverty’), students did many activities to get a better grasp of each goal and what they felt most concerned them either personally or in their communities.
The activities were described as exciting and inspiring by most. In fact, 110 out of 114 students reported that they enjoyed the learning experiences that were given throughout the week. Monday was the most action-packed day of them all. There was a scavenger hunt in the morning (each checkpoint consisted of an educational game about a certain Sustainable-Development-goal), a TED talk before lunch and a photo shoot where students made their own posters advocating change.
This “investigation stage” prepared everyone for the gruelling personal research sessions on Tuesday that took place for the majority of the day. The students spent this time exploring the global goals that they were most interested in and deciding how they wanted to make a difference.
Three guest speakers came during the week as well. Of those, there were two topics that were discussed. The first speaker, Pia Wong, was there as a representative for “Bring a Book Hong Kong”, an organisation aimed at developing the average Hong Kongese kid’s interest in story books - calling for action under the Sustainable Development goal #4, Quality Education. The two others came to advocate for goal #17, Life Below Water, on the behalf of the NGOs “HK Shark Foundation” as well as “Plastic Free Seas”.
All the speakers boosted the morale and inspired the students; offering insights to their stories and how they pursued what was important to them until they could make an impact. On being surveyed however, quite a significant number of students thought that these guest speakers were, “boring at times.” or “Not in my interest and not related to my chosen goal.”
Even though there were fun break-out activities to split the days up, students still found Thursday and Friday tiring due to the continuous work on their projects, which were presented at an exhibition for the Year 5s, Year 8s, parents and finally “special guests”. Although students and the audience alike believed that the exhibition was creative and interactive for all, quite a few students found the final days to be too boring or stressful to manage. Karan GILL, an enthusiastic and hard-working student, voiced the very common thought that, “REAL week would be more meaningful if we didn't have to spend so much time in the classroom.”
In a rather unsurprising fact, the break out activities were what made the week most enjoyable to many of the students, according to a survey sent out by Ms. Lodders, one of the head coordinators of the week. 89 students voted the break out activities as “most enjoyable” whilst actual development of the projects sat next in line by 67 votes. “The yoga gave a lot of people a break from their work,” said Chelsea Wnek, the conductor of one of the more popular break out activities. “So people could focus more on their project work afterwards.”
Many great projects were made in the event of REAL week. For example, many of the students made board games based on realistic simulations to encourage the younger visitors to learn about their roles in the world as the more fortunate people. Also, there were bake sales, presentations, activities and more on show that Friday. Overall, the week definitely left an impression on the audience as well as the students. Mrs Wnek, one of the Year 5 teachers voiced that, “They particularly liked the different ways you chose to share your learning and you have inspired many of them with your creative ideas”. She said, “You should all be proud of what you achieved this week.”
Not only did REAL Week improve the Year 10s’ understanding of interdisciplinary learning, the projects also pushed the students to make use of their passions for the RCHK, and wider, communities. “I was really impressed with the projects and presentations on Friday,” said Mr. Reid. “They were fun for the younger students and also very creative.”