IICS is a caring community and that globally-minded trait of caring extends far beyond our walls. In the first half of this school year (and for the second year running), IICS has been involved in refugee outreach in numerous ways: holding an extremely successful clothing and supplies drive, hosting 100 refugee students for day of art and activities, and hosting experts on outreach and NGO efforts, like IICS parent Peter Vogelaar and Civil Involvement Projects founder Tara Hopkins.

In the second semester this year, IICS staff along with a group of student leaders have been planning what else we can do to support refugee outreach efforts. Exploring what NGOs are doing, independent volunteer efforts by staff and students has helped us further understand what is available. Mr. Rempel, Ms. Gokmen, and Grade 11 student Stani Messner have done food and clothing deliveries on weekends to Syrian communities with the +1 (formerly Gezi Revir) organization. Ms. Hashmi and her husband have been volunteering on weekends at Ad-Dar, an organization that provides skills training to adults and young adult refugees. This and other activites have helped us identify some good options for IICS involvement.

On April 10th, for a second time IICS will host refugee children for a day of art and outdoor games. Our visitors will also be given lunch as well as gifts to take home (gifts courtesy of Nobel Bridges’ school). Like our first event in December, this SUNDAYFUNDAY is also student-driven, led by many of the students who organized the refugee outreach activities last semester. Ms. Hashmi’s connections with Ad-Dar allowed us to coordinate a group of children from the communities they serve. Grade 11 student Eray S. appealed to the IICS PTA through the PTA’s grant program to cover the cost of bussing the Syrian group to IICS and back. Grade 10 student Filippo M. has been coordinating with interested Upper Primary student leaders to run the outdoor games along with Grade 11 student Mahmood Z. Filippo has also been organizing the awareness campaign for the event amongst the student body. Grade 11 students Alia R. and Micah M. are organizing art activities. Mr. Davis is organizing an electronics drive in coordination with the event as well. More student involvement is always welcomed! Interested students should contact Ms. Hashmi.
Refugee Event April 10-01

There are not always many authentic and direct ways for Primary students to express their support for children refugees. Fortunately we recently had a visit from Michal Bardavid, who was a student at IICS in the 1980s and who is now a news correspondent for Chinese news station CCTV. She is also a certified dance therapist who teaches at Bogazici University. Michal was on her way to cover the 5th anniversary of the Syrian War by reporting from Turkey’s Syrian border. Before she went, however, she had a great idea of how to involve our Primary students to help spread some healing to refugee children while she was down there.

Michal visited IICS Marmara Campus on Wednesday, 9 March and taught a number of Primary classes and their teachers a simple song with movements in Arabic. Michal videoed us singing the song (even used her super cool drone to record our dance from a number of angles!) The song and dance had the following words and movements:

I am safe. (claps on legs)
I am loved. (touches heart)
I am whole. (hugs him/herself)
I am beautiful. (runs hands on face)
I am a child. (arms up jump and let out a shout)

Michal’s reason for videoing us was to be able to share our dance with refugee school children in Sanliurfa and Gaziantep whom Michal would be visiting 13-15 March. During her visit there, she also taught refugee children this same song and dance to help bring some positive emotion to their days, which (as for most crisis survivors) can often be overshadowed by fear, trauma, and post-traumatic stress. By teaching this dance to refugee children and showing our solidarity with them, it helps them remember and participate in the joy of childhood.

I AM A CHILD project with IICS Alum Michal Bardavid from Istanbul Intl. Community School on Vimeo.

As another way of reaching out, IICS Primary students also created cards for the children Michal would be seeing. This was a great opportunity for our Arabic speaking students to take leading roles as they helped students translate the sentiments they wanted to pass on to the children at the border. Here are the sentiments they decided to write and illustrate on their cards:

 *نحن نشعر بكم

We feel for you.

*هناك دائما امل

There is always hope.

*انتم في قلوبنا

You are in our hearts.

*نتمني لكم حياه افضل

Wish you a better life.

*آلآمكم آلآمنا

Your pain is ours

*كلنا سوريا

We are all Syrians

*نتمني لكم السلام

Wish you peace

*اطفالكم…. اطفالنا

Your Children …. Our Children

*نتمني لكم مستقبل افضل

Wish you better future

*نتمني لكم العوده لدياركم في وقت قريب

We hope that you will be back home soon.

And here are just some of the 100+ cards that Michal was able to take with her and deliver directly to refugee children at the Syrian border:

What a wonderful way to show we care through direct acts of compassion for our little sisters and brothers who are going through a very hard time.