Learning from the Manila trip

On the flight home, students were asked to write down two things they had learnt during this trip: one about drama/theatre and one about a wider issue.

These are their responses.

In terms of drama/theatre, I have learnt:

how to improvise better

how to use voice, movement and levels to make a good performance

how to look at an opportunity and see when to take leadership

new skills for working effectively with new people

that drama isn’t just reading from a script, and that there are lots of other techniques like improvisation

how to enhance my dramatic work by using props in a different way

games that help improve focus and concentration

how to improvise and communicate with the audience

how to use props in an ensemble in a collaborative way

that you can use props for many different purposes

how to mime better and how to personify things

that concentration is the key to better acting

that it is key to trust and listen to others’ ideas in drama

that the more you relax, the less stress will be put onto you: sometimes the simplest ideas can be the best

how to use drama skills and story books to create a piece of drama, and the importance of props and costumes while performing

how not to forget lines when performing on stage

about stand-up comedy and how to do stage fighting.

In broader terms, I have learnt:

that we are very privileged, that anyone can be your friend and that we are all part of different communities

that we can help people by doing great things

to be grateful for all the things I have right now: children from other places barely have anything and yet they still keep that optimistic smile; so should we

that in Hong Kong we are unaware of how the world is around us; that the more fortunate you are, the less respectful you are

that even if you are not wealthy, you can still be happy

that the people who have the least tend to give the most

that a good community is one in which people care for each other

that money and luxuries aren’t the way to find true happiness; the way to find true happiness is in family, love and care

that those with very little money in the world seem to know the true meaning of love and community

to understand better the fact that ‘money can’t buy happiness’

that Filipinos are very good at singing

that you don’t have to be wealthy and should appreciate what you’ve got

that we have to appreciate what we have because people around us who are less fortunate than us seem to smile more than us

that people who are less fortunate can be role models – grateful, caring and helpful

that we are so (so so so…) lucky with what we have

that I can work quite well in groups of people I don’t know

that we need to do more than just donate to charities: we have to physically help support people in need.


Day 3 in Manila

The third day of the festival was largely taken up with ensemble time, leading to a final sharing of some of the answers the students had discovered to the central question of ‘What is community?’. This sharing took the form of a performance in which each ensemble presented their findings through dramatic means.

Then there were lots of very tearful farewells before the students spent a final evening and night with their host families.

Some key moments from the performance are shown below.










Day 2 in Manila

Screen-Shot-2015-01-24-at-13.45.54Another early start this morning: students arrived at school at 7.30am in order to get on buses for the ‘out and about’. Traditionally these excursions have been a chance to get out of school and visit a specific site in order to get inspiration for the drama work that follows, but at this festival the ‘out and about’ was a visit to one of ISM’s 5 service learning partners.

Our students visited a site belonging to Kids International Ministries (KIM).

Screen-Shot-2015-01-24-at-13.43.40It was a truly eye-opening experience for our students, and they definitely gained a better understanding of the city of Manila: the area in which the school is located is very affluent and well developed, and so it was good for them to see another side of the city.

The students worked with a group of mostly Grade 4 children who go to a school created by KIM: they started by playing a range of drama games before splitting into small groups. Each group was then given a simple children’s story for which they had to create props and costumes before developing a performance of that story.

Screen-Shot-2015-01-24-at-13.45.07It was great to see our students interacting with the local children, as well as with some of the students from ISM and some volunteers from a local service organisation. The Harrow Hong Kong students showed genuine leadership throughout the process, and the final performances were admirable for their creativity and enthusiastic presentation. Far more important, however, was the way in which they came away both humbled and energised by the experience: they clearly have much to think about as they move forwards with the rest of the weekend’s activities, and it was fascinating to see them reflecting on how they might like to be involved in future service events back in Hong Kong.

Screen-Shot-2015-01-24-at-13.47.29The students have now moved back into their ensemble groups, where they will embark more seriously on the process of exploring the theme of the festival, Bayanihan (the spirit of community) through drama and theatre. There were some very tired-looking faces this morning, but the positive energy is keeping them all going!

This evening there is a social event at the school, about which there is much excitement! This will end at 7.30pm, at which point they will be returning to their host families for what will no doubt be a very welcome and well-earned sleep.


Day 1 in Manila

17 students from Years 6 to 9, accompanied by Ms Collins and Mr James, travelled to Manila yesterday to take part in an ISTA Middle School Festival.

After a rather lengthy encounter with bureaucracy in the airport, followed by a slow journey through Manila’s traffic, we arrived at International School Manila at around 8.30pm. The students were swiftly picked up by their host families and travelled home for the night.

This morning they all seemed to have had a good night with their host families. The festival started with an opening performance from ISM students, followed by a full group warm-up involving all the students taking part. Students are now in their ‘ensembles’, which is the name given to the main groups that they will be working in over the weekend.

The process has begun!