What we gain through service

Students working at Ronald McDonald House

Year 10 student Daniel Cash knows service is about much more than going through the motions. “At this School, we believe true service isn’t transactional,” says Daniel. “It benefits both parties, and it’s something personal. Reflecting on our actions helps us to see this.”

Earlier this year, Daniel initiated a new project for the Values in Action program in order to encourage this kind of reflection: a journal to record and celebrate on the work of Values in Action participants—both students and those supported by them.

Alongside Mark Horsford, Director of Service Learning, Daniel and others are now working towards the first issue of, what is hoped will become, an annual publication, Shoulder to Shoulder.

Written by volunteers, the creation of Shoulder to Shoulder is itself a representation of service to the School. According to Daniel, requests for contributions from students have been met with an enthusiastic response. “I don’t know why teachers have problems getting in homework,” he says wryly.

“Service is a basic human need,” Daniel adds. “By reflecting on the service we give, we can see our experiences properly, and find an even greater sense of gratitude for the opportunity to contribute.”

“The Service Learning movement has an understanding that what we do is a step above volunteering,” adds Mark. “There’s an emotional benefit to a project like this, as well as an intellectual benefit. Through working alongside and forming relationships with members of our community, we want students to think about why this service is necessary, and consider the forces shaping our world. We hope to engender a commitment to a more just society in them.”

It’s been a wonderful year of service, despite the limitations created by COVID-19, and this first publication is a testament to that,” says Daniel.

He hopes that the second edition of Shoulder to Shoulder will record even more instances of stepping outside the immediate Melbourne Grammar community and amplify the voices of supported community members themselves.

Excerpts from Shoulder to Shoulder, 2021

“I am so grateful not only for the relationships I have been able to build and the children I have been able to see begin to flourish in their learning, but also for the wholesome and uplifting interactions I have witnessed between the other Melbourne Grammar tutors and their respective partners.”
Tom Carne, Year 11

“The new skills learnt, experience gained, and most importantly the sense of accomplishment achieved is something that most students that have done service can describe and seeing the direct positive impact on someone’s life is truly a rewarding experience.”
Angus Cha, Year 12 student and Chair of the Values in Action Committee

“…my increasing involvement within the service program at the school has taught me the value of charity work lies not necessarily in the amount nor worth of any aid given, but instead, in the willingness to be a helpful person to society and appreciate my own living circumstances.”
Anthony Chen, Year 12

“I hope every boy has the chance to meet all types of people from all different aspects of life, because some of the most genuine people will be in the toughest situations. Giving back to the community is important but caring about the community is vital.”
Oliver Horrigan, Year 11