CAS stands for Creativity, Action, and Service, and it is one of three essential elements that every student must complete to receive the IB Diploma. While not formally assessed, CAS provides opportunities for students to enhance their personal and interpersonal development through hands-on learning.
One of the components of CAS is a ‘CAS Project’, a collaborative series of student-initiated CAS experiences over several months engaging students in one or more CAS strands (creativity, activity, and service). Following the five CAS stages of Investigation, Preparation, Demonstration, Action, and Reflection, students can explore their passions whilst challenging themselves to initiate purposeful action around defined goals. The following months will bring a series of interviews where the STC Media Team interviews different students around school to highlight their CAS projects and initiatives.
This week, Virginia Biffen speaks to the STC Media Team about her CAS project United Magazine, which she leads. STC has many CAS projects, but Virginia decided on United Magazine after trying out different clubs. Moreover, she believes in the importance of celebrating bilingualism and providing students with a platform to exhibit their artistic flair, which United Magazine helps support.
Can you introduce United Magazine?
United Magazine is Sha Tin College’s annual bilingual magazine (est. 2013) that focuses on the Creative strand of CAS. Each year, students of different ages and ethnicities unite to create a magazine filled with Chinese and English articles and a splendid array of artworks. This year, I led United Magazine alongside my team: Jamie Soo (Head of Design) and Daniel Soo (Head of Media).
What is the purpose of your CAS Project?
The primary intention of United Magazine is to shed light on the different United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UNSDGs) and to provide a creative outlet for students to express their thoughts about various topics.
What impact/outcome do you hope United Magazine will have on the community?
United Magazine is very precious to the STC community and me, so I hope to continue the legacy of this project. Moreover, I seek to raise awareness for diverse local and global issues whilst engaging different audiences to invoke more discussions about diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI).
Were any changes made due to COVID-19?
Due to the pandemic, we had to make several changes. Our weekly meetings are now held online, with most communication on online platforms like Gmail. However, my supervisor and teammates have been resilient and adaptive, so we didn’t make drastic changes. I also appreciate the continuous support from fellow STC students; they are all very diligent, and I wouldn’t have come so far without them.
What qualities does an effective director require?
I believe anyone can become a compelling director for a magazine, so long as they have a passion for writing and leadership. At the start of my experience with United Magazine, previous student heads guided me and gave me lots of advice, which inspired me to become a director. However, I think an essential quality is liaising with students. Without communication, leadership easily breaks down, and there would be no structure to the club itself.
Running a magazine is challenging. What was the biggest challenge you currently face, and how are you overcoming it?
The biggest challenge is planning the milestones before the magazine’s publication. Due to the unpredictable health situation, it has become increasingly challenging to estimate when classes will resume. Thus I must alter the plan to meet the needs of my teammates. Furthermore, many students have exams currently and tutorial lessons that clash with the meeting times, so I often need to create a bespoke timetable to meet them.
What advice would you give to students looking to become better writers?
My advice may sound cliche, but don’t be afraid to make mistakes! Explore your favourite genres of writing, and when inspiration arises, make sure to grasp the opportunity to write something down, even if it’s minimal. Also, you don’t have to read piles of books to excel in writing! Practice makes perfect, so as long as you try writing different works. Eventually, you will find the confidence to embrace your unique writing style. Believe in yourself, and you’re already halfway there.
To read some of Virginia’s past work, check out her article from United Magazine Edition VII, titled ‘中国传统节日里的饮食文化’ ’!
Written by: Kadence Wong