Service Learning

Service Learning, Leadership and Action at Nishimachi

Nishimachi is a community where knowing, caring and taking action is embedded in our identity and integral to our curriculum.

Service learning is experiential and enacted from a place of mutual understanding. It  addresses human and environmental needs and includes advocacy, direct or indirect involvement with people, animals and the environment to make an impact, as well as research to influence policy and practice.

Service learning is a teaching and learning approach that integrates meaningful action with instruction and reflection to enrich the learning experience, teach global responsibility, and strengthen communities through mutually beneficial partnerships.

Students develop leadership skills and learn to collaborate, think critically, and problem solve.

(This definition is adapted from Linking Service-Learning and the Common Core State Standards: Alignment, Progress, and Obstacles. Education Commission of the States. By Lisa Guilfoile and Molly Ryan. April 2013)

The Kirivorn School in Cambodia

The Kirivorn School in Cambodia

The Kirivorn School is a primary school in rural Cambodia sponsored and built by Nishimachi in partnership with World Assistance for Cambodia/Japan Relief for Cambodia. Since 2001, Nishimachi students have organized various activities and events to raise funds for the maintenance and annual operational expenses of the school. We are committed to an ongoing partnership with Kirivorn, and various Nishimachi teachers and families have gone to Cambodia to visit the school. 

Grade 9 Service Trip to Cambodia

In December of 2017, Grade 9 students traveled to Cambodia for the first ever Nishimachi Kirivorn Service Trip.

The Trip


Day 2: PHNOM PENH CITY TOUR Michael Dickison, a former Nishimachi student and now the managing editor of The Cambodia Daily newspaper joined the students and staff for lunch giving them the opportunity to hear about present day Cambodia and how Nishimachi may have helped him prepare for the work he is doing. They visited the National Museum and the Local Market including a stop at the IBC book store for Khmer books & sporting equipment to bring to the Kirivorn School.

Day 3: KANDAL PROVINCE - BRIGHT FUTURE KIDS HOME & A NEW LIFE ORPHANAGE FOSTER CENTERThis facility, managed by World Assistance for Cambodia, houses academically talented scholarship students from very poor rural areas, including two students from the Kirivorn School, as well as orphans and foster children who have lost one or two parents to HIV/AIDS but the children themselves are not afflicted. The children attend school in Phnom Penh. The campus has dormitories and classrooms for supplemental classes such as English and computer. The Nishimachi students received a Khmer language lesson planned and taught by the children at this center, and spent the rest of the day engaging in shared learning and team building activities including the chance to eat lunch together with the children at the center. In late afternoon they returned to Phnom Penh.Shopping, but not without stopping to buy milk for Kirivorn families.

Day 4: PHNOM PENH – SIHANOUK VILLE The team departed for Kirivon (located in Kampong Seila District, Steung Chhay Commune, Sihanouk Ville Province) in the morning, stopping along the way to buy 70 loaves of bread at Bayan bakery for the Kirivorn families. They arrived at the Kirivorn School in time for the afternoon sessions to begin and were able to engage in various learning opportunities with the students that included art workshops, outdoor games and time to share.

Day 5: SIHANOUK VILLE The day began with a trip to visit a pepper plantation and Kabul Chat Waterfall. They then had the opportunity to visit a beach where each student and staff reflected on their trip individually and as a group.


Student Reflections

Even though we could not speak the same language fluently, we were still able to communicate - even a smile was communicating. When one of the girls held my hand I really felt that we were connecting and becoming friends. I really did not want to leave Bright Futures, as I felt like I had made new friends. - Alisa

Something I learned about myself is that I am able to put my frustrations aside and move forward. The best thing was connecting with the kids. Advice for next year: Don’t judge anything, be open, be kind and help each other out. This trip made me grow up. I think I am more relaxed and can take a deep breath when things are difficult. I learned that I have to take a step back sometimes and let others take on the leadership. - Renge

When being of service to others, we shouldn’t assume things without understanding the full story. It was hard to teach the idea of sharing to the little kids. To feel and share the happiness of the kids was the best thing ever. The hardest thing was to put your life aside and be in the moment. Even though we cant fully relate, we can listen. I learned to speak up when there is a problem - Mimi

One way we could all communicate was through our emotions. When you face a problem, don’t give up - think outside the box to use both your resources and abilities. By serving others we can contribute to our society Thanks to this trip, I was able to see just how lucky we are to have this life. I won’t be forgetting this anytime soon. - Allen

I was shocked by the gruesome torture during the Khmer Rouge rule. It was heartbreaking. I have been supporting Kirivorn for the last 9 years and today I was able to make my dream trip to the school. A simple paper plane put a smile on all our faces and I hope I visit Kirivorn agan to hold hands with all the people there. You will realise the true meaning of appreciation. This was a life-changing trip for me - I realize how privileged I am. - Rei

The food was delicious! How can one human be so cruel and selfish? It is important to remember this tragedy. Smiles are what make great days in Cambodia - not money. The important thing is not just giving but how you take part in the interaction of giving. I learned that I can talk to a variety of people. I was able to talk to teachers I don’t know, students who don’t speak English or Japanese and also classmates I don't normally talk to. - Kai

Something that I learned about myself is that I am able to take on leadership roles and I am very proud of that. Remember to look around and find the beauty in things. The hugs from the grade 6 girls was the best and they taught me how to count to 30. I hope to go back to Cambodia or to other countries that are in need. - Mana

I was shocked by the number of people riding motor bikes. As I am shy it was difficult for me to start a conversation with people I did not know but I did a good job of coming out of my comfort zone and explaining the activities. As we stepped inside the school I felt very touched by the kindness from the students there. It was fun doing the activities that we had planned, especially the songs we taught them. The best moment was when I was playing with lego with the kindergarteners. They had big smiles on their faces and I realized I did too. Helping people in need is something we should always do as Nishimachi students are encouraged to be global ambassadors. - Yuri

I was able to communicate with the children by using gestures and making eye contact - I had a very fun time. I need to be thankful to live in such a wealthy country. The best moment was when I first saw the smiling students at Kirivorn School. I learned that being wasteful of our resources is a foolish thing to do. - Rintaro

Something that I found out about myself is that I enjoy being with/taking care of kids. The children at Kirivorn school have had a big impact on me and my view of the world. Although leaving was hard - the hugs were great and the gifts they gave me such as pipe cleaner rings and crowns. Although money is important, actually participating and giving your time is more meaningful to both the people receiving the service and you. - Marin

I learned how important hand gestures are in Cambodia and I was shocked by the amount of litter on the streets. I enjoyed talking to the students at Bright Futures about their dreams and families. I have learned that I am able to cross cultures to bond and it felt as if the students of Kirivorn were my siblings. At Kirivorn, two girls asked if they could hug me. I asked, “is it ok to touch someone of the opposite gender?” They replied that it is ok toe for people who love, care and support us. I learned that we have to be careful of cultural differences. - Kake

I was surprised by the number of Japanese cars and and the amount of Japanese support in Cambodia. We can help other countries succeed. During our basketball game, I noticed that sound effects and fist-bumps were a common language and enabled us to get close. The children at Kirivorn were smart and happy with what they had. Learning a little Khmer is really useful. - Kosei

I was surprised by the prettiness of the Royal Palace. It was so beautifully kept and every colour and design on the building had meaning. Even though we fundraise a lot for Kirivorn, the classrooms were still mostly empty except for the desks chairs and blackboards. The hardest thing was talking to the boy with the water buffalo and the old man and comparing their life to mine. Now that I have seen how they live, I cannot ignore it. I learned that I am able to communicate with people without words. - Sarina


Other Projects

In addition to ongoing support for the Kirivorn School, Nishimachi students promote and support the work of various NPOs/NGOs, including World Wildlife Fund, O.G.A. For Aid, Second Harvest Japan, Room to Read, and HandsOn Tokyo. Service opportunities for students include visiting the tsunami-affected areas in Tohoku, organizing food drives and clothing drives, helping with the school’s annual community service flea market, car-washes, bake sales, and fundraising to help disaster-affected areas of the world.