Busan, Korea – 24 November 2016- On Wednesday, November 23, 2016, forty Grade Six students from Busan International Foreign School (BIFS) cleaned up the rocky shore area of Songjeong, a popular surfing beach and destination for Korean visitors and international tourists, as part of a newly-forged connection with the Haeundae Gu Volunteer Center. From 9:00 to 11:00am, BIFS students and teacher chaperones combed the rocky shore at the Haeundae end of Songjeong beach for flotsam, jetsam and beach litter and placed the material in bags provided by the Haeundae Gu Volunteer Center. The city was responsible for removing the bags. BeFM, Busan Daily News, Yonhap News Agency and Kukje News Agency covered the event. In part because of the BIFS cleanup, BeFM has invited BIFS to participate in an environmental event in January at the Busan Museum of Art.
Service to the community is part of the BIFS education. BIFS students and teachers have been doing cleanups around Busan for years, and achieved some renown in Korea after Super Typhoon Chaba for helping to initiate beach cleanup efforts. Says BIFS science teacher Gillian Vaughan, “Education of kids is the way forward. If you don’t educate the kids about litter they won’t take care of the planet. Environmental stewardship is embedded in the IB. In Sixth Grade students have been studying carbon footprint, renewable energy and ocean currents. When students were approached about participating in this beach cleanup they already had loads of information about the ocean gyres and environmental pollution from their Fifth Grade project. Says Craig Wilson, BIFS Creativity, Action and Service Coordinator, “If students walk out of school realizing that they have a role, that they are not just observers of the world around them, that’s such a big step.” Said BIFS English teacher Aimee Wagner: “Students were excited to help and they cleaned a tremendous amount of garbage, from tiny polystyrene pieces and cigarette butts to large pieces of rope, wood, and fishing industry debris.” Commented one student participant: “People walking by seem happy to see us doing this.”
BIFS is an International Baccalaureate (IB) Continuum School. “Service Learning,” connecting teaching in the classroom with action in the community, is integral to the IB’s vision of teaching peace through global citizenship and environmental stewardship. In addition to a rigorous academic education, participation in service projects is a requirement of the IB diploma, coveted for its status as a gateway to prestigious universities around the world.