In the cold, grey heart of wintry Berlin shines a beacon of love and appreciation. Whether near (in school) or far (home-learning), one thing is a constant – the SIS Berlin community is happy with what they have and extends a helping hand to those less fortunate.
Before the schools' shut-down, the children at SIS Berlin completed a compassion project for the winter term. Students, parents, and teachers looked into their ample wardrobes and appreciated that they have the privilege to accumulate clothing to keep them warm. They worked together and cleaned out all the things they were grateful to have, but no longer needed. They knew that some people would genuinely appreciate having items to keep them snug. In addition to collecting two car-loads full of clothing donations for the Berlin Kältehilfe, they had also collected €831,81 at the previous years' Winterfest (winter festival). With these two donations combined, the fantastic SIS Berlin community caused quite a stir at the EAF – Erstaufnahmeheim Forckenbeck (a facility where asylum seekers are first housed and supported upon arrival in Germany). Ms. Andjelka Cvitic, a social worker, was equally shocked and happy when she heard the amount. Ms. Cvitic explained details of daily life in the facility, telling students that the staff at the facility often collect money amongst themselves to buy birthday presents or necessities for the people living there. She assured the students that their donation would go quite a long way.
Outside of this compassion project, the community of SIS Berlin is practicing gratitude daily. It is a fact that those who appreciate what they have and reflect on it regularly are happier, healthier people. Beginning in January, all community members received an "Appreciation Journal." In this journal, the writer is prompted to reflect on something that they appreciate that day. For example, "Something I like about myself today is…" At SIS Berlin, both students and teachers understand that appreciation is a habit that should be practiced. Therefore, to build a proper routine, this journal encourages daily gratitude reflections for ten weeks! To add to the fun, each Friday consists of a challenge for the community members. The challenge is to take a photo of the theme for that day (nature, food, etc.) and send it to the school office. These photos are then shared in the next week's community e-mail, bringing everybody at SIS Berlin together to enjoy their own experiences, as well as the experiences of others.
Distance learning, cold winter days, and a bit of isolation might prove to be complicated. But at the end of the day, at SIS Berlin, students and teachers see the glass as half-full! There is so much to be thankful for and so many reasons to practice gratitude every day!