DSS for Ukraine Humanitarian Aid

This spring, in response to the events in Ukraine, student-led clubs at Dwight School Seoul took the initiative to raise awareness about the growing humanitarian crisis in Ukraine and neighbouring countries and to raise funds to help some of those most affected by the war. 

Four student clubs, including “The 3 ‘C’s” who supported the Ukrainian Women’s Fund through a successful bake sale in late March, identified established human rights organisations that align with the groups’ specific mandates. The shared goal was to raise community awareness of the humanitarian issues resulting from the conflict and to raise money to give to where it’s most needed. Through a series of in-school club-led events supported by Student Council and an out-of-school peace walk, Dwight students were able to raise over 4 million Korean won to be equally split among the four chosen organisations.

What follows is a series of questions (provided by faculty sponsors) and answers (provided by students who lead these clubs) which help to explore the importance as well as the successes and challenges of student-led service for a crisis that continues to evolve.

1. Student Council

1.1 Please summarise your group’s fundraising efforts, the organisation and how the money will be used, and how to be aware and stay involved
Reena (Grade 11): Upper School STUCO supported the 4 student-led groups throughout the engagement week, organising the schedule and location for the various fundraisers to take place. In addition, STUCO worked with faculty members in organising the Peace Walk. Through creating the logo, the t-shirt, and the Instagram filter, STUCO aimed to engage the whole Dwight community under COVID guidelines.

1.2 As the group responsible for overseeing the organisation of humanitarian aid can you comment on how you planned and organised this?
Reena: To fully acknowledge each student group and their fundraising efforts, we allocated a day per group. We guided them to proceed with their fundraiser in front of the cafeteria during morning break and lunch times. Prior to and throughout the week, STUCO actively promoted the fundraisers via email, broadcast, and Instagram.

1.3 Comment on the successes of the various activities you organised and oversaw.
Reena: Engagement week was a huge success, with all 4 student groups raising a significant amount of money as well as nurturing awareness within the whole Dwight community. Peace Walk also had a wonderful turnout even when organised under a time crunch. Students, teachers, and families of the Dwight community participated in the event, sharing their experience through the use of the Peace Walk filter. It was truly rewarding seeing the waves of positive messages throughout the whole community. Such success was possible and valuable as STUCO had a chance to work with the faculty members and other student groups.

1.4 How do you plan to maintain momentum and do you have any plans for further projects?
Reena: As we approach the end of the year, STUCO is planning on reflecting back on our achievements for the year & sharing with the whole community. Since humanitarian aid was a huge part of the STUCO achievement, such reflection will remind the students of the successful and meaningful event that took place this year.

2. Mental Health Club (Voices for Children)

2.1 How did DSS’s Mental Health Club get involved in fundraising for humanitarian aid for Ukraine?
Eun Jae (Grade 11): Dwight School Seoul’s Mental Health Club raised funds for ‘Voices of Children’ by creating a fundraising quiz. The money DSS students raised from participating in the quiz will be used to fund  psychological support for children in the Ukraine. You can stay involved and find out  more about this and other projects within DSS’s Humanitarian Aid project by visiting booths at the Spring Fair and viewing messages in the bulletin, DSS news and lesson content. Voices for Children exemplifies the DSS Humanitarian Aid’s ethos to make aware that Service is an ongoing effort to help communities meet their own needs, to become sustainable.

2.2 How do you think the DSS community can continue to raise funds and/or awareness of Voices of Children, to meet their needs?
Jennifer (Grade 9): It can be agreed by everyone that the 2022 Awareness Week at Dwight was a huge success! It was a great opportunity for many student-led initiatives- including our Mental Health Club to help bring the spotlight on the Ukrainian issue that has been affecting the world on a global scale. I believe that by continuing Awareness Week’s legacy, we can keep raising funds for Voices of Children and even branch off to other organisations that may need our help. Furthermore, raising awareness of this issue by highlighting this project at school-related events can also contribute to making this ongoing. For example, the Mental Health Club is dedicating a booth to it at Spring Fair to sell resource kits. I believe that we started off very strong with the help of the Humanitarian Aid team and we need to keep this positive momentum going for our community members to keep up to date with the Voices of Children. Our alternative resource- our website (which will soon be available to everyone) is another great outlet to receive updates. Furthermore, the website is a platform where students can reflect upon their own mental health too. The Mental Health Club will continue working hard to spread awareness for Voices of Children whilst keeping in mind the mental needs/support of Dwight students.

2.3 Why is it important for the MH Club and Voices of Children to raise awareness of the need for Psychological Therapy in children and young people?
Sera (Grade 9): Psychological therapy, sometimes referred to as ‘talking therapies”, involves having a relaxed conversation to identify psychological difficulties and provide potential solutions to ease the issue. This method is effective especially for children and young people as they often hold in their stress from schoolwork, friendship, and other personal issues without an appropriate outlet. This easily leads to burn-outs and other serious mental health issues. In psychological therapy, students are encouraged to let all of their negative thoughts and emotions flow out by talking. Such collaborative discussion also sets a reminder for students that they are not alone in the track of hardship and that all of us are here to support them. In a safe and confidential setting, students will be willing to be open-minded and share their difficulties. Therefore, it is vitally important for the Mental Health club to collaborate with Voices of Children to raise the need for psychological therapy for children.

3. HOSA (Razom for Ukraine)

3.1 Please summarise your group’s fundraising efforts, the organisation and how the money will be used, and how to be aware and stay involved.
Reena: HOSA Dwight has fundraised for RAZOM, specifically its Emergency Response project. RAZOM, which means “together” in Ukrainian, has proceeded with multiple projects since the Revolution of Dignity in 2014. To address the 2022 Ukraine Conflict, they are collecting monetary funds to provide critical humanitarian war relief and recovery depending on urgent needs. As our fundraiser, we created a HOSA Dwight charm, including the symbolism of peace and the colours of the Ukrainian flag. Along with these charms, we handmade keyrings & sold them to students and teachers of the Dwight community. The fundraiser was highly successful thanks to all the participants of Dwight members. The money raised will go to purchasing the most critical supplies such as tactical medicine items and hospital supplies. HOSA Dwight plans to stay aware and involved through continuously exploring and identifying global issues analogous to the Ukrainian conflict. In our service sector, we will organise service projects that will aid to raise awareness and provide indirect support to various organisations.

3.2 How does Dwight HOSA’s service sector align with the values demonstrated by Razom’s Emergency Response Project?
Lin Yuan (Grade 11): Razom’s Emergency Response Project provides urgent needs and support in the face of the situation in Ukraine. With the money earned during the Humanitarian Aid week, the Dwight HOSA service sector is able to take part in the meaningful action of supporting Ukraine. The ultimate goal of the Dwight HOSA service sector, to begin with, was to raise awareness of the different global issues around the world and support different communities (ex. Doctors Without Borders, Razom) that are initiating programs that directly offer help to the struggles. During our fundraising efforts this time, Dwight HOSA’s service sector was able to participate as donors which align/help Razom’s Emergency Response Program to provide the most urgent needs.

3.3 Dwight HOSA is a very large student-led group. How do you plan to use your strength in numbers to continue to support humanitarian aid efforts such as Razom Emergency Response?
Winston (Grade 11): Dwight HOSA consists of a large group of dedicated students that is willing to sacrifice their personal time for a greater cause. In the previous service sector event, members came together to handmake and sell keyrings. Thanks to our “strength in numbers”, multiple groups were allocated to different locations of the school to sell a greater quantity of keyrings. Our ambitious qualities allow for HOSA projects to proceed more efficiently, whilst reducing the overall workload of the group.

3.4 What are some of the medical supplies that the Razom Emergency Response project is providing that address the medical needs of people in Ukraine?
Yunhee (Grade 11): The Razom organisation provides a large variety of medical supplies for Ukraine. These supplies are separated into first priority, second priority and non-medical supplies which help the distribution of those medical supplies. First priority items consist of supplies such as coagulation machines, mobile x-ray machines and defibrillators. Secondary priority items include PPE: Gloves (examination & sterile) and gowns, operation lamps, and thermal foil. RAZOM also provides non-medical supplies such as tactical backpacks to hold medical supplies, GPS devices for navigation.

4. Grade 5 Awareness Team (Voice for Children)

4.1 How did you contribute to our school’s humanitarian aid efforts?
Woojin: We went to every classroom from preschool through grade five and we presented about the conflict in Ukraine. We talked about how to help Ukraine through the peace walk, donating to Voices for Children, and painting art to show our hope for peace.

4.2 Why did you think Lower School should support Voices for Children?
James: I thought about Lower School students learning about what is going on in Ukraine and how we can help the lower school understand what is happening in Ukraine. We knew that people at Dwight wanted to help civilians. We chose Voices of Children because they help children in Ukraine and we are children. We can help by donating, donating can give children art therapy so the children can express their feelings. Hopefully, the civilians and children can return home safely.

4.3 What advice would you give kids who want to stay informed about conflicts like the one in Ukraine?
Hugh: I would tell them to definitely watch more of the news. This way you can know what is actually happening there. However, you have got to watch out for sites where the information could be biassed. One of the things I did to stop this was to look at a media bias chart to see which news actually tells the truth. You could also even ask a person who actually is in Russia and Ukraine to tell their perspective of what happened. So if you do want to stay informed about conflicts I advise you to try to watch the news or read articles about the topic from real people in the conflict.

4.4 This was an issue you were passionate about. What advice would you give to kids in the future who have a humanitarian cause they want to support?
Kazuki: I think kids who want to support a cause should watch the news to know more about the issue. One of the things I did was I started watching a very famous Ukrainian YouTuber in Japan (He grew up in Japan and speaks in Japanese.) He was talking about the things that are happening in Ukraine. Their dad is fighting in the war too and he talked about what it’s like in Ukraine. I really think that they should watch or read about what’s happening so they know how to make a difference.

5. CodeMIRACLE (American School of Warsaw)

5.1 Please summarise your group’s fundraising efforts, the organisation and how the money will be used.
Ella (Grade 9): As CodeMIRACLE, a non-profit student humanitarian organisation, we dedicated 2 months to fundraise and donate to the American School of Warsaw (ASW) in Poland. Along with many other student organisations, CodeMIRACLE held a polaroid fundraiser, where we took pictures of students for 3000 won, and the total was donated to theASW, who continue to provide a great deal of service and care for Ukrainian refugees.

5.2 What inspired you to engage in ongoing service and the desire to help other people?
Aaron (Grade 9): What inspired me personally is a strong recognition of injustice and a refusal to accept the current reality. For our Afghan efforts for example, we heard about what happened, and immediately wondered what we could do, especially since the news about Operation MIRACLE, the Korean Afghan rescue mission, our namesake, came to us. We were inspired by the fact that these things were happening to people just like us, however we weren’t doing anything about it. What I, and we as CodeMIRACLE, believe, is that once you set your mind to create change with good intentions and desire, you will eventually be able to create positive change.

5.3 What suggestions would you give to students on how to be aware and become/stay involved in service related activities?
Aaron: CodeMIRACLE’s focus has always been on children in need. That’s why we focused on fundraising and helping Afghan Refugees and Ukrainian Refugees. We plan on maintaining momentum by continuing to be aware of and respond to the ongoing Ukrainian Refugee issue, while also trying to branch out to a more local medium: There are children everywhere in need, and they don’t need to be refugees to receive our attention and care.

Zoom Meeting with ASW
In the evening of May 6th, student and faculty representatives from Dwight School Seoul connected with representatives from the American School of Warsaw. DSS students had a chance to hear from a teacher and two students (one of whom is a former DSS student) about their experiences on the front line of helping with displaced Ukrainian families. Please click on the links below to explore some of their most memorable responses.

You can watch the entire 38 minute video of the zoom meeting here.