Embracing Global Citizenship and Service Learning: A New Horizon for CAS and more at Changchun American International School

By LeeAnne Lavender, PeerSphere Storyteller

In the bustling province of Jilin, China, where the automotive industry thrives, Changchun American International School (CAIS) is a growing and vibrant international school. With more than 530 students and a diverse faculty, the school’s IB Diploma Coordinator, Kristy Goodman, is on a mission to learn about service learning and global citizenship so she can help shape and create authentic and impactful learning experiences at her school. 

Kristy, with previous experience primarily in middle school and English language learner education, recently transitioned to a leadership role in the high school at CAIS. In addition to serving as the IB Diploma Coordinator, she teaches DP English Language B to grade 11 and 12 students, and is the extended essay coordinator and the college counsellor. As the DP coordinator, Kristy wants to grow her understanding of CAS (Creativity, Activity and Service), a core component of the IB program. So, when she heard about the PeerSphere global citizenship and service learning peer learning community (PLC), she was quick to join the 2023/24 cohort. 

“Covid made service and CAS challenging, and I want to think about how we can do things differently and more intentionally at CAIS,” says Kristy. 

One of the unique aspects of Changchun American International School is its truly international community, with a balanced representation of expatriate families from around the world. “We’re one of the most international schools in China,” Kristy notes. As a result, a multilingual environment is the norm at CAIS, with students commonly speaking two, three or more languages.

This, along with a diverse teaching staff from all five continents, puts CAIS in a good position to foster intercultural understanding and a truly global approach to thinking and being. 

“This community and experience really prompted me to join the Global Citizenship and Service Learning PLC to understand service learning and CAS better and get ideas of how we can grow our program,” Kristy explains.

The decision to join the professional learning community has proven to be invaluable for Kristy’s professional growth. “It’s helped me shape a better idea of what we can do,” she reflects. 

Engaging in discussions with leaders from other schools and participating in breakout sessions with educators like Adam Pollock (from Chinese International School Hangzhou) and Haakon Gould (from Shanghai Community International School) has broadened Kristy’s perspective about what service and action can look like. 

“Talking with Haakon in a breakout room in our last session, I mentioned that I missed living in Shanghai and having more access to English resources, but he explained how they root their service program in the SCIS school context first, before building out into the broader community. That has shifted how I’m thinking about what we can do here at CAIS,” Kristy explains.

As a  newcomer to the high school and DP environments, Kristy is actively seeking opportunities to learn from fellow teachers and explore successful models. The collaborative nature of the peer learning community has provided her with a platform to exchange ideas, discuss challenges, and envision new possibilities for CAIS’s program.

Looking ahead, Kristy aims to infuse more experiential learning into the CAS program and hopes to see more curricular service learning integrated into the Middle Years Programme (MYP). “Down the road, I would like to see more curricular service learning with the MYP and a more robust CAS program for DP,” she shares. “I’d also like to see more experiential learning opportunities for all students.”

Kristy plans to spend a number of years at CAIS, and she is poised to apply what she’s learning in her PeerSphere PLC to many aspects of the DP and MYP programs at her school. Her experience exemplifies how participating in a PeerSphere peer learning community can enrich a professional learning journey and, at the same time, impact a school’s vision for teaching and learning. 

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