AT TAYLOR'S: Samantha Morley (samm@aism.edu.my)
PROJECT PARTNER: Chin Student Organisation (csoschool09@gmail.com)
The Australian International School Malaysia has developed a strong relationship with the Chin Student Organisation over the past four years. This opportunity benefits both the Chin and AISM children through interaction and integration in the school as they work and learn together in an after school program. This is an opportunity for Chin refugee children to experience a safe and structured educational environment that strengthens their abilities and gives them hope for a better future. The Chin Student Organization (CSO) is a registered, voluntary, community organization whose aim is to provide Chin refugee children residing in Kuala Lumpur with a decent education.

The Chin people are from one of Myanmar’s most vulnerable and victimized ethnic minority groups, located in the West of the country. Many Chin people have fled persecution within Myanmar and have made their way to Malaysia seeking refugee status with the 
United Nations. While they wait for relocation to other countries such as Australia and the USA, they must try to live a sustainable life. This is not easy when most refugees arrive in the country with nothing and there is no legal recognition of asylum-seekers or refugees under Malaysian law.
In March 2005, a small group of dedicated Chin graduates from the university in Myanmar, living in Kuala Lumpur and also awaiting resettlement, formed the CSO to ensure that the children of refugees had an opportunity to continue their education. The organization now has five learning centres across Kuala Lumpur, teaching in the native Chin Language and also in English. The CSO is affiliated with the UNHCR and is currently run solely by volunteers and funded through donations. There are nearly 500 students and over 50 Chin volunteer teachers throughout the CSO.
AISM began to be involved with the CSO in 2010 when previous Service Learning Head of Department, Sheila Martineau met with Lorna Briscoe, then teaching a class at CSO Cheras. The students from AISM were initially challenged to help raise funds via jumble sales and directed the proceeds to CSO. As part of the students’ service learning, a small group of student volunteers were taken to the Cheras school to teach some songs and dance moves. In 2011 the refugee children from Cheras learning centre were invited to AISM to become part of the wider school community and to learn more about the students at AISM and their way of life. Now the Chin Immersion Programme runs once every two weeks on Thursdays. While the Chin children practice their English and become familiar with Western educational techniques, the AISM students learn more about Chin people and their culture, aiding their awareness and understanding about the world they live in.
Many children, teachers, and parents of AISM participate in the Annual CSO Sports Day and Annual CSO Year-End Concert which are held at AISM. As the Chin children live in crowded buildings, they treasure the opportunity to run around the fields and exercise their musical talents. Parents at AISM have been instrumental in the organization of these events. Chin children also participate in football matches held at the school. AISM’s collaboration with CSO is a perfect example of the way in which Taylor’s Schools support our global community and develop student leadership in tackling global issues, encouraging communication, tolerance, and understanding. To find out more about the CSO, please head to their website at www.csomalaysia.org/. Further information about AISM’s many community projects can be found on these pages, or through their website at http://www.aism.edu.my/life_at_aism_details.cfm?id=11 

Written by Amelia Ooi