Action to Service

Service at WISS encourages students to help the community, either locally, nationally, or globally. At the Western International School of Shanghai, we believe that doing and experiencing is a key component of meaningful learning. As IB learners, through service, we together strive to be caring members of the community who demonstrate a personal commitment to service, and act to make a positive difference to the lives of others and to the environment.

Saturday School

Recognizing the need for English language skills in the local community, the Western International School of Shanghai (WISS) established their Saturday School Program in 2008, beginning with one teacher’s efforts teaching a few children living on the neighboring farmland.

Since then, Saturday School has grown into a program with 30-60 weekly volunteers teaching English to more than 100 local Xujing students. Members from every facet of the WISS community, including primary students, secondary students, staff, and parents, participate. Saturday School provides WISS students an opportunity to help those around them while also increasing their own skills, confidence, and understanding.


In Saturday School, we connect and give back as one community, although we are all from different parts of the world.

Saturday School develops leadership skills in our student volunteers while helping local students get an English-immersion experience. When learning a language, being in an environment where you can practice the language by speaking and listening is essential. Many local Chinese children in the WISS neighborhood take English classes at school but lack the opportunity to practice what they have learned. Our volunteers work to provide Saturday School students a learning environment to practice English through fun and interactive lessons.

WISS Saturday School also provides the opportunity for service learning, where our students, parents, and teachers give back to the community. It has evolved into something more than just a place where children come together to learn to speak English. At its core is the hope to make a positive impact on society. It is a conceptual model of how a diverse community can connect and work with each other. Saturday School allows volunteers to strengthen communication and collaboration skills, often pushing them outside of their comfort zone and encouraging them to think outside the box. All of this increases self-confidence and fosters a natural sense of accomplishment.

Due to COVID-19, WISS Saturday School could not proceed with the former structure of having local students and families on campus. Instead, Saturday School now takes place as an After School Activity (ASA). Volunteers are given various roles such as on-screen teacher, videographer, editor, scriptwriter, and translator and work in groups to create online lesson videos for the local students. WISS arranges extra materials for the English students to use while watching the video lessons from the safety and comfort of home.

Any member of the WISS community who wants to be a part of Saturday School has that opportunity. If you are interested in volunteering, contact our Saturday School Coordinator, Jae Oh, at

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Volunteering for Saturday School brings fun and fulfillment to all of us each time we come together. With WISS opening up the doors, our community has gained the opportunity to connect and learn from each other. This program has helped us open our hearts and to accept and give respect to our differences. It already has and continues to bring a long-lasting impact to our community. Each year, there is a long waiting list of names from parents who want their child to attend our program. It is living proof of how WISS has influenced our community over the past ten years. Not to mention that we also have returning students, teachers, and parents who want to participate and keep the program going year after year.

This program has positively influenced us and set a standard for us to be better citizens contributing, with positive energy, something back to society, whether in a small or big way. We are leaving positive footprints in our community.

Service in Early Years

Through Units of Inquiry, the ideas of responsibility and sustainability are instilled in WISS’s youngest learners. Our Pre-K students work with materials and focus on recycling. This encourages our students to look at materials in a very different way and recycle what they can. Pre-K students are taught to identify materials and their properties which will lead to the Kindergarten unit of “Sharing the Planet”.

In Kindergarten, students identify water pollution and land pollution on campus and decide the ways they can help fix these issues through the “Sharing the Planet” unit. This learning through service and action gives students the skills to begin observing the natural environment, understanding the impact that we have on it, and how they can create change. Identifying the rubbish around them and taking the necessary steps to clean this up builds student agency through inquiry, action, and service.

Our Early Years students have also planted and cared for trees on campus, grown a garden, and built a worm farm. These projects teach students awareness of their role in nature, as well as skills in caring, responsibility, and sustainability.

Service in Primary

Action Cubs in the Western International School of Shanghai is a group of students in Grades 2-5 that plants the seeds of service, caring, and creating change. Action Cubs is a student-driven club that encourages students to make changes within our WISS school community.

The students are focused on creating a vision for change and then using the proper process to make those changes happen. Action Cubs identify problems and needs within the school, come up with solutions, propose their solution to school leaders, and take action to make changes in our community.

Action Cubs are broken up into 6 committees that focus on a variety of needs:

  • Environmental Committee
    Focuses on environmental issues around school
    • worked to remove single-use plastic utensils from the WISS Canteen and Cafes
    • educates teachers on waste in the classroom

  • Recess Improvement Committee
    Concentrates on improving recess experience for students
    • organized a Spring Basketball Tournament for Primary students
    • proposed the purchase of a variety of new recess equipment

  • Food Committee
    Works with Canteen to improve school food
    • meets regularly with Canteen Manager to provide suggestions

  • Spaces Committee
    Looks at how we use our spaces around the school
    • created a comfortable recess space called The Nook

  • School-wide Committee
    Explores on issues that affect the whole school
    • looked at how the library is used during recess time
    • currently examining the school’s homework policy

  • Events Committee
    Coordinates event planning around the school
    • planned Caring Week to promote kindness in the WISS community
    • planning a STEAM*D Fair so students can share their talent in the science and technology areas

Service in Secondary

Examples of past projects include:

The MYP aims to help WISS students develop their personal understanding, emerging sense of self, and growing responsibility in the community. Service is a valuable experience allowing our students to continue to increase awareness of their strengths and areas for growth, to undertake new challenges, to plan and initiate activities, to work collaboratively with others, to show perseverance and commitment, to engage with locally and globally significant challenges, and to consider the ethical implications of their actions.

In MYP, students are introduced to the UN Sustainable Development Goals as a framework for service. Students choose a sustainable goal based on a developmental goal and find a need in the community that applies to the goal. Explore China has a component of community service to support WISS’s philosophy of caring and to introduce them to different needs in China which will hopefully inspire them to bring these initiatives and projects back to Shanghai.

Examples of past projects include:

  • fundraising to provide clothes and toys to migrant children for the Giving Tree Program
  • student led tutoring in Chinese, Korean, and Spanish
  • recycling and upcycling activities for Earth Week
  • tree planting in Inner Mongolia as part of the Grade 10 Explore China Trip
Jolene, Sara, and Madison iShare is a collaborative group where students come together and try to benefit the school community. We got involved with iShare because we wanted to benefit our school, help plan events, bring morale up, and have more interaction between different grades. We try to plan activities that students will enjoy like our red packet event where students and teachers could send messages and chocolates to other students and teachers. This was a way to celebrate Chinese New Year and make people feel good. Now we are doing Earth Week where students can come out to the field and paint reusable cloth bags.

Read about more student's experiences with IBMYP Service.

Service in IBDP and IBCP

IBDP and IBCP students are required to successfully complete CAS in order to obtain an IB diploma. CAS is designed to strengthen
and extend students’ personal and interpersonal learning. It is a journey of discovery of self and others. It is organized around three strands of creativity, activity, and service.

Students are required to conduct service locally or internationally (outside of WISS walls). Local interactions allow for developing relationships, observing and participating in sustained change, and meeting challenges through collaboration. This requirement is for a minimum of one semester each year of the two-year Diploma.

Many WISS students choose to focus on our local community. Through their joint effort to clean up Xujing (partnering with students from a local orphanage), students have a goal of giving back to their community and help to make Shanghai a better place to live.

Examples of past projects include:

  • Beach Cleaning
  • GAIL (Global Alliance for Innovative Learning)
  • Giving Tree
  • Sunday Football Camp
  • Saturday School
  • Visiting Orphanages
  • Performing at Hospice
Laura I think that the greatest achievement that I am fortunate to have taken away from my CAS experience is connection. Because of CAS, I was able to socio-culturally connect myself with the environment in which I live. China is such a versatile country, filled with culture, CAS has helped me both improve my understanding of its history and its language. During one of my CAS activities, “Singing at a nearby Hospice” we were able to have conversations with some of the elderly people staying at the hospice and it was overwhelmingly touching.
Asha My challenge was finding a balance between all three activity types. I do a lot of performing so creativity was no problem, but finding time to do service was difficult. CAS also pushed me out of my comfort zones and into things that I never thought I would accomplish - all these activities in only 2 short years. I’m very proud of my accomplishments and they are all meaningful to me. They have contributed to my DP experience greatly, I really enjoyed doing CAS. Although it was a lot of work, it was a memorable experience.

Service Committee

Student Council is an opportunity for students in Grades 6-10 to become involved in leadership in the WISS community. The Service Committee brings new service initiatives to the school and they’re working to make the campus greener, more eco-friendly, and sustainable.