Friday, April 5, 2013


My two years in the IB DP CAS programme have been phenomenal. I have participated in a wide variety of activities on the CAS spectrum and have performed up to the best of my ability in each one of them. Through my primary activities in the three aspects of the CAS programme, i.e. Creativity – Learning how to play the guitar and becoming a fluent guitarist, Action – regularly participating in badminton and swimming in order to improve stamina and physical fitness, and Service – being involved in ‘Library Service’ and ‘OSC Recycling and Sustainability’ and learning special life skills such as leadership. All the activities I participated in challenged me at times. I faced these challenges and my work done towards these tasks helped me acquire a set of skills which related to at least one of the CAS learning outcomes. Out of all the great memories and experiences, these challenges and other forms of works done by me primarily shaped my learning. Thus, I can now reflect upon my achievements in the challenging and rigorous, yet fun and experiential CAS filled years.

Learning Outcomes
Nature/Location of Evidence
Increased awareness of their own strengths and areas of growth
I believe that I was able to reflect upon my experiences in all activities at least once. While learning to play the guitar, I knew that my strengths were pick-style plucking and strumming and always felt that my music note reading skills are an area of growth. As playing the guitar is now a hobby, I am sure that I will gain more knowledge as I complete my school life. Similarly, during my badminton and swimming sessions. During badminton, I reflected upon my tactics and fitness. Overall my skills developed, but my main strength remained my ability to quickly cover the court, to improvise and to communicate/collaborate in doubles matches. My areas of growth right now are increasing strength in shots by hitting jumping shots and using more trick shots in order to make my game play more unpredictable. Lastly, I felt that I was a good planner and organizer in both my leadership roles in ‘Library Service’ as well as in ‘OSC Recycling and Sustainability’. However, I developed a large number of other skills such as clear communication, ad-lib (improvisation) in real life, and team management (encouraging and uplifting all team members while acting as a role model leader).
Undertaken new challenges
Throughout the two years there have been many instances when I have undertaken challenges. However, the highlights, i.e. the new challenges, amongst them were taking leadership responsibility in CAS activities and organizing some of the weekly badminton sessions for my whole group. Leading my team on a weekly basis required good organization, planning, collaboration, communication and time management. I feel that my experiences in the two CAS activities helped to instill and enhance these skills within me. Similarly, organizing weekly badminton sessions was a task that required me to communicate with my group members. Also, I had to communicate with concerned officials in the D.S. Senanayake Sports Complex which at times was a challenge due to the language barrier. Thus, improvisation and adjusting to new situations are also great life skills that I enhanced in this process. Similarly, my experiences from the Grade 11 Week Without Walls trip involved construction works. Hence, I got involved in digging, painting, and other ‘heavy work tasks’. These were new tasks for me and they were challenges to me initially. However, with practice, I feel that I became more skilled at those tasks and surely developed a new asset of useful construction related skills. Also, taking risks, communicating openly, being balanced in regards to planning and initiating service tasks, and open-minded to others ideas are skills close to the IB learner profile that I have accomplished in the past two years.
Planned and initiated activities
The main new challenges I undertook were also coincidentally the primary activities in which I actively took part in planning and organizing/implementing. Planning of weekly service sessions required planning ahead of time and thus, I dedicated time outside service hours for this task. Similarly, booking badminton courts in D.S. Senanayake and Royal College Sports Complexes, and organizing and communicating on a daily basis with my guitar teacher with regards to class timings, notations, extra help, etc. required planning on my behalf.
Worked collaboratively with others
I worked in collaboration with my peers, group members, team mates and supervisors/mentors/teachers in all my activities. Collaboration was the key to both playing and organizing badminton and, planning and organizing weekly service sessions. In order to avoid repetition of the same activities, I shall highlight my collaboration experiences from ‘Week Without Walls’ that took place in Grade 11. While working on helping renovate the field area, I collaborated with my peers at the planning and working stages. I diligently got involved in activities ranging from digging holes and removing large rocks, to painting swings, slides and other play equipment. I believe that all those experiences were special and experiential partially due to the collaborative nature of the tasks.
Shown perseverance and commitment in their activities
I believe that I showed perseverance and commitment in all my activities. This can be seen through my regular attendance of badminton sessions, swimming sessions, and guitar classes. Similarly, participating in ‘Library Service’ and ‘OSC Recycling and Sustainability’ for one continuous year each exemplify my perseverance and commitment towards these activities.
Engaged with issues of global importance
In many of my activities, especially in service related activities, i.e. ‘Library Service’, ‘OSC Recycling and Sustainability’ and Week Without Walls – school renovation work. I feel that my contribution, being a part of the two service groups, towards the school community was directly related to issues of global importance. Donation of books and funds to the Jaffna Public Library, a symbol of spread of education by providing resources, was a significant event when I was participating in Library Service. Also, by maintaining the books in the library on a weekly basis, we were able to provide the OSC community an organized and user-friendly resource base. Hence, I feel that our task as a team, despite being small on the global scale, was that of ‘Guardians of the Library’. However, even though the task was relatively small, it was of great importance in the OSC community. Similarly, in ‘OSC Recycling and Sustainability’, our group spread the message of environmental sustainability within the OSC community. While we worked only within the campus, our message of ‘Reducing, Reusing and Recycling’ was global. I, as a leader, worked towards always maximizing our work efficiency in order to succeed in the broad goal of decreasing the school’s ecological footprint by increasing recycling of as many resources as possible. Thus, the implementation of new strategies, planning of every new task, and even the simplest assignment of collecting recycling material from an area or providing a new box for collection to a class – all were of great global significance.
Considered the ethical implications of their actions
While ethical implications were present less in Creativity and Action, Service was the main aspect of the CAS programme where I reflected upon ethical implications of actions. Similar to the tasks where I was engaged with issues of global importance, reflecting upon the importance of resources for education such as in the case of the Jaffna Public Library and even in the OSC Secondary Learning Resource Center (or Secondary School Library), I felt that the service group’s contribution had positive ethical implications. It had kind purpose and was helpful to the Jaffna community, however, it also taught all of us (the ‘Library Service’ team) the great value of the resources we have for education. For me, this was an eye-opening experience. Similarly, while working with the ‘OSC Recycling and Sustainability’ group, I worked as a part of a team to help reduce the school’s ecological footprint. Despite this being seen as the service group’s main goal and one of the OSC School Board’s fundamental targets, it is globally important action. Those actions have a relatively small effect on the global anthropogenic ecological footprint; however, the positive ethical implications are infinitesimally greater. By spreading information within a multi-national school community, and by also providing information on the internet through a well-maintained blog, the service group serves as an exemplar to all those who are uninformed, misinformed, or wish to contribute in their own ways. In a similar fashion, the nature of aid we provided to the school’s undergoing renovation in Hambantota was much better than just financial help. This was because donation of time and hard-work alongside with financial aid can provide utilitarian happiness and create unforgettable experiences for all participants. Thus, overall, I feel that there have been great positive ethical implications from some of my actions, and I will always continue to work towards helping others.
Developed new skills
I feel that I developed new skills in all the activities I undertook. Other than the new skills mentioned previously such as those related to leadership, commitment and perseverance, etc., I believe that I developed one special skill that I will cherish for my life. This is the skill of being a fluent guitarist of a moderate level. I will surely continue to build on my current ability and hopefully improve even further.

The past two years have been enthralling and enriching for me. I will always cherish the experiences and am sure that the learnings from the CAS process will always help me in my future.


Thursday, February 28, 2013

Recycling - February 2013 - A new group... but the same commitment!

The Recycling and Sustainability service programme commenced in the second school semester. While me and Jenn will continue as co-leaders under the supervision of Mr. Ian Lockwood, this semester the OSC Recycling and Sustainability service group will welcome many new members. As the service group will be starting afresh, it will be important to build a team spirit and establish good communication in order to accomplish our service goals. These goals in general include continuing the recycling material collection within the school campus in an efficient manner, increase the environmental sustainability of our school community by recycling used (and non-reusable) paper, cardboard, plastic and some metals, and finally, help develop a responsible and caring attitude towards use of resources within the school community by setting up trays for reusable paper in all rooms and thoroughly filtering recycling materials obtained for reusable items. We may add glass to the items we recycle in order to increase our school's eco-logical footprint.

The following students will be taking part in Recycling and Sustainability for Semester 2:

Anaath Jacob
Anna Schosser
Arnont Singsathitsuk
David Tchoumak
Januda Muthugama
Malaika Salman
Nisala Saheed
Nitika Singh
Sarocha Vitthayakrai
Varun Menon

The first session was held on 7th of February. On the day, a previously planned introduction and many organized ice-breakers were carried out to start the activity in order to promote group bonding and community service spirit. Recycling material collection was initiated at 3:10 pm. There was also a small  reflection session in the end. By the end of the day, I developed new skills of addressing students with a formal introductory speech by overcoming the challenge of speaking in front of a group as a leader, and guiding the students by leading as a role model. However, I also realised that as the eldest students in the group other than myself and Jenn are 7th graders, it will be difficult to look for future recycling service leaders. Thus, this will be one of the challenges me, Jenn and Mr. Lockwood will be working towards.

Recycling sessions have been going well since and I am happy with the active participation of our current team. While new types of challenges have been coming up, we have tackled and overcome them efficiently in collaboration and they have not caused any hindrance to our weekly sessions.

Some photos of one of our sessions this month are given below:

Helping in packing recycling material before it is sent to the recycling center.

Some primary school children enjoyed learning about our service.

Ready to go!
This month was packed with service based action for me as well. As a leader, I (along with my co-leader) have been challenged both physically and mentally. Regular sessions are planned differently according to special requests or different scenarios. Thus, spontaneous planning, organization, and teams and task distribution test me mentally as a leader. At the same time, actively keeping track of all students, keeping records of collection before, during and after sessions, as well as participating in collection and cleaning tasks myself test me physically as a leader. All these tasks have enabled me to develop a very useful set of skills as a leader which will be useful to me in the distant future as well.

Now, I look forward to the final lap and hope it will be as exciting as this month!

Monday, February 25, 2013

Guitar - February 2013 - Always a joy

My guitar classes had temporarily come to a halt during the January examination period. However, after the exams, I have regularly attended my classes and continued independent practice. All my 1 hour class sessions were extended by a minimum of 30 minutes each for continuation of practice and this reflected my perseverance towards achieving my goal of becoming a fluent guitarist.

While the initial two classes this month were dedicated to practicing previouslty learnt skills on the same songs, the most recent classes were focused on developing new skills. These mainly included new classical guitar fingering and strumming techniques. As music is only limited by a man's creativity and ingenuity, there can potentially exist an infinite number of rhythm techniques which relate to a large variety of strumming patterns. I learnt three different strumming techniques and I practiced them with the pieces of musics namely 'Podmoskovnye vechera', 'Romanza' and 'Barcarolle'. I am also working on memorizing 7-8 guitar scales in order to increase my knowledge. However, this will take time not only due to the nature of tasks related to memorization, however, also (and mainly) because of my academic commitments in this last lap of my school career.

I feel that I am on track for achieving my semester and year goals. However, I feel that next month I must record some videos of myself playing music on guitar in order to create records of my development since the beginning of my guitar classes around one and a half years ago.

I am looking forward to guitar classes in March now. However, my independent practice continues irrespective of class timings.

Badminton - February 2013 - Its going well

As my badminton sessions for February concluded today, I felt that I should reflect upon my experiences and development over the past month. As this was the first month of my last school semester, it is even more important for me to assess my growth in accordance with my goals for the semester as well as my goals for the year.

February has been a pretty academically busy week for me as I have my college entrance examinations approaching (for Indian universities) before the final IB examinations in May. Thus, while attempting to balance myself between academics and co-curricular activities, I managed well to attend all the badminton sessions punctually and with full perseverance. However, as I also attend guitar classes during weekends, I was not able to continue swimming practice, which for this reason will be one of my main targets during the next month.

Badminton sessions continued as usual for me because I rarely skip these fun-filled and action-packed breaks from my daily routine. I played singles and doubles matches mainly against more experienced players who challenge me to the brim of my stamina. However, the majority of the matches I played were doubles matches. Hence, using the collaboration and communication skills I acquired over the past 2 years due to my commitment towards the activity, I enjoyed applying myself to the sport and appreciated the reciprocated competition. Reflecting upon my strengths and areas of growth, I feel that my stamina, reflexes and overall communication and play tactics have improved. However, one area that I believe to be an area of growth requiring most focus is my spontaneity and variation in shots. Despite having my own plethora of orthodox and unorthodox shots, I tend to be quite predictable at times. Thus, this will be my main attention during next month's sessions. Also, as an 'knower' and an IB student, I believe that there is always room for improvement. Hence, other things I will work towards improving are my movement across the whole court, my body attack smashes as well as my backhand shot strength.

In general, I believe that I am on track to achieving my semester and year goals, respectively. As it goes for the global and ethical implications of any important task, continued commitment and perseverance is always fruitful. Thus, this will be my motto not only for the semester, but it will define my optimistic approach towards all tasks in life.

Photographs from one of my doubles matches are attached below (I am wearing a black shirt and camouflage shorts).

Reaching out to hit a short-court smash.

Responding to a low cross-court smash.

Serving ... but with a plan!

Responding to a overhead smash.

Some of my footwork at work.

Hitting a smash!

Responding to a drop shot with a well-placed cross-net drop shot.

Hitting a smash!

Being a good sportsman :)
This month has been very enjoyable and I now look forward to badminton in March.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Semester 2 - Goals

CAS Goals for the second semester

The senior year has entered its last phase and I have just completed my IB trial exams. After this short 'break', now I plan to continue my involvement in the IB DP CAS programme. Thus, before jumping into the CAS schedule, here I will develop my goals for the semester. My goals for the second semester will be modified from the goals I set in the first semester as I have identified specific areas of improvement from my experiences and report card feedback.

Guitar (Creativity): 

I have not been able to practice guitar during the past three weeks due to academic engagements. I feel that I have successfully learnt and understood the basics of guitar. Now, I will continue improving my guitar skills using primary resources such as my teacher, brother or friends who are experienced and fluent guitarists, and secondary resources such as the Internet.

My goals for guitar this semester are:
  • Attend classes regularly and punctually.
  • Practice properly and participate actively in class.
  • Play guitar for at least 2 hours every week with minimum 30 minutes duration practice sessions. (Independent of class time)
  • Learn and video at least 1 song every month.
  • Be creative with my learning, i.e. attempt to vary the types of songs I learn and practice different techniques. 
  • Recording and reflecting on my experiences regularly on my CAS blog.
Recycling (Creativity and Service): 

While me and Jenn will continue as co-leaders under the supervision of Mr. Ian Lockwood, this semester the OSC Recycling and Sustainability service group will welcome many new members. As the service group will be starting afresh, it will be important to build a team spirit and establish good communication in order to accomplish our service goals. These goals in general include continuing the recycling material collection within the school campus in an efficient manner, increase the environmental sustainability of our school community by recycling used (and non-reusable) paper, cardboard, plastic and some metals, and finally, help develop a responsible and caring attitude towards use of resources within the school community by setting up trays for reusable paper in all rooms and thoroughly filtering recycling materials obtained for reusable items.

My goals for recycling this semester are:
  • As a leader, it will be most important for me to lead all my team members by setting up an example.
  • I will improve my communication skills
  • I will improve my team leading skills by planning tasks in collaboration with my co-leader Jenn and supervisor Mr. Lockwood.
  • Participate enthusiastically, commitedely and actively.
  • Successfully transfer the co-leader positions to two team members in order to complete my and the service group's transition from the IB CAS programme.
  • Regularly reflect about my experiences on my CAS blog.
 Badminton (Action):

I will continue to take part in Badminton sessions at the D.S. Senanayake twice every weekend. This activity has enabled me to improve my stamina and challenge my body physically. These sessions are good for physical fitness and also for mental relaxation. Thus, its aptly said that "a healthy mind resides in a healthy body". In addition, these sessions will enable me to improve my badminton skills and become a better player and sportsperson. The timings for these badminton sessions will be:
  • Saturday - 7 am to 8 am
  • Sunday - 7 am to 9 am
My goals for Badminton this semester are:
  • Be punctual and attend sessions regularly.
  • Spend some time doing warm-up exercises and jogging.
  • Take minimum breaks.
  • Participate enthusiastically, commitedely and actively.
  • Regularly reflect about my experiences on my CAS blog.
While working towards achieving these goals, I will keep in mind all 8 critical learning outcomes in the OSC CAS handbook. These learning outcomes are:
  • Increasing awareness of my own strengths and areas of growth
  • Undertaking new challenges
  • Planning and initiating activities
  • Working collaboratively with others
  • Showing perseverance and commitment in my activities
  • Engaging with issues of global importance
  • Considering the ethical implications of my actions
  • Developing new skills
These aspects will always be incorporated in my actions and in my reflections and therefore, I will do my best to ensure I take great learning experiences and skills from the last semester of my school life.