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Posted 06/08/2020 02:00PM
Posted 06/04/2020 10:00AM
Movement Outreach and the Red Cross: Local Service at TASIS
Posted 01/25/2020 10:00AM

TASIS Service Learning Program


BY ALEXIA DOCHNAL ’22

This year, a new group dedicated to serving our community was added to the TASIS Service Learning Program: Movement Outreach, a High School group that fundraises for and cooperates with the Red Cross, a charity that does critical work to help refugees seeking asylum in Switzerland. Our group focuses on connecting with Red Cross refugee children through different forms of movement such as dance and sports.

Refugee children who have faced so many challenges in their own countries arrive in Switzerland to face the challenge of integration. Our discussions with contacts at the Red Cross, a charity that does critical work to help refugees seeking asylum in Switzerland, have made clear how dance and sports can be crucially helpful for these children as they make new friends and strive to understand a whole new world, culture, and community. Something as simple as playing a game of soccer or creating a piece of choreography as a group can serve many significant goals.

Movement is an expression of personal identity and diversity. It allows us to tell our story in a language that is universal, like the language of service itself. Our group has been exploring what role we, as TASIS students, can have facilitating movement opportunities with these greater goals in mind. 

At the start of the school year, Mrs. Alexi Love and I organized a fundraiser for the charity organization Traveling Tutus, which delivers dancewear to children in need around the world and partners with other nonprofits to organize ballet classes in underprivileged communities. When I first heard about this organization, I realized that spreading joy through dance is one of the most powerful ways to encourage growth and self-expression. Thanks to the TASIS community, the fundraiser was a success and we have begun collecting gently used dancewear that can be given to the refugee children at the Red Cross for use in their practices and dance performances. (Please contact us for future donations!) This success inspired TASIS to build on these initiatives and our existing Red Cross partnership with a new service-learning group that I volunteered to lead, Movement Outreach.

Traveling Tutus fundraiser

Traveling Tutus fundraiser

There are two other Service Learning groups that collaborate together and fundraise for the Red Cross at TASIS: Red Cross Children and Red Cross Refugees. All three of our groups had the chance to listen to an inspiring and deeply moving talk by Sahar Samuel, a man from Eritrea who found a new life in Switzerland after seeking asylum through the Red Cross. He told us about the difficult situation that he had to face in his home country, the difficulties and dangers of fleeing Eritrea, and about his story and journey with the Red Cross. 

Another touching experience was attending the annual Merenda di Natale in Cadro, hosted by the Red Cross, where children from all over the world who have come to Switzerland showcased their talents through dance. It was an opportunity for us to experience their diverse cultures and celebrate their heritage and individuality.

Throughout the fall semester, we hosted a number of different fundraisers. During the Holiday Market in December, we were able to raise more than CHF 1300 by selling beautiful Christmas flowers. A big thank you to our donor, Bachmann Giardini-Tennis SA, who donated all of the flowers that we sold! Students also prepared and hosted a successful fundraising lunch and raised more than CHF 800. We donated some of our funds to the Australian Red Cross to help with the ongoing bushfire crisis.

Our group at the TPA Holiday Market

Our group at the TPA Holiday Market

In this new semester, we are planning to create a dance piece together with some of the Red Cross refugee dancers, which will be featured in the Sweet November Dance Company concert during the Spring Arts Festival on May 14. We are also planning a series of charity sports events on May 17 during the festival while continuing to build our group and relationship with the Red Cross. Please consider participating in our Valentine’s Day fundraiser on February 14 and our clothing drive for the Red Cross from March 16–20. We will also be organizing an open ballet class for the Elementary School to fundraise for Traveling Tutus on March 28. 

Mrs. Love, our group leader, noted, "I see TASIS students as uniquely qualified to understand what it means to interact with children from a variety of different cultures and backgrounds; they know and can model how to find common ground and how to honor each other’s differences while collaborating towards a shared goal. They can model language acquisition, a challenge for many of these refugee children, all while participating in activities like dance and sports that are fun and rewarding for everyone involved.” 

I think that with profound dedication and devotion, any idea or initiative has the capacity to improve lives and communities, and the effects of the universal language of service are exhilarating and encouraging.


The students in our group emphasize how inspiring it is to see that even after everything they have been through, the Red Cross children are full of joy and vibrancy—open to reliving their childhood in a new place. They’ve taught us how vital it is to be open to the exploration of new ideas to serve our cause. One student in our group noted, “It warms my heart to see how happy the kids can become from our little acts of kindness.”

I think that with profound dedication and devotion, any idea or initiative has the capacity to improve lives and communities, and the effects of the universal language of service are exhilarating and encouraging.

We hope to continue spreading joy and helping others through the beauty of dance and movement! With your help, we can make a difference!

A New Structure for the High School Service Learning Program

Starting this year, the TASIS Service Learning program follows a new structure. 9th-graders follow a service curriculum centered around world issues like the environmental crisis, 10th-graders focus exclusively on local service, and the 11th and 12th grades focus on global service. 

Serving our local community allows us to give something back to the beautiful community we are fortunate enough to be a part of and to build on the opportunities we have been given. Whether we do this through gardening or dance, it builds a sense of unity, compassion, and harmony within our community, strengthening our bond with our surroundings.

Mr. Danny Schiff, the Director of the Opsahl Global Service Program, said, "The goal of having all 10th-graders serve in a local or community partnership was to have as many students as possible in the High School be involved in meaningful, experiential service as often as possible. With partnerships such as the Red Cross, Intergenerations, and OTAF in the Lugano community, we have students getting into our larger communities to form connections. Additionally, through our Environmental Action and Ethical Gardening programs, we have students making TASIS a more environmentally conscious and aware community. Our hope is that the 10th-graders who served in their local partnerships will bring that same passion to communities across the world when they travel globally the next year."

Serving our local community allows us to give something back to the beautiful community we are fortunate enough to be a part of, and to build on the opportunities we have been given.

In all, the 10th-grade local service groups include the Red Cross, which works with refugee children and teenagers; Intergenerations, which focuses on serving the elderly community in the Al Pagnolo nursing home; OTAF, which works with the disabled community in Ticino; and Environmental Action and Ethical Gardening, two groups that focus on raising awareness about the global environmental crisis while engaging in initiatives that make our community more environmentally friendly.

Mahatma Gandhi once said, “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” In serving our community, we explore and build the values of compassion, respect, and humility—the values that are indispensable to being world citizens, and the values that TASIS fosters within its students.

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