Summit Sierra High School in Seattle’s Chinatown-International District sits a few blocks from many other nonprofits, such as a health clinic and an affordable housing nonprofit that helps low-income and vulnerable communities. This spirit of giving back and contributing to the community can also be seen in the classrooms of our high school.
Beyond what students learn in the classroom, Summit Sierra students can lead a club where they can pursue their interests or find a new passion. This school year a group of students have taken the initiative to get engaged with the community that surrounds the school.
The Little Saigon neighborhood is just a block from Summit Sierra. According to the website Ethnic Seattle, Little Saigon grew into a vibrant business area in the 1980’s, following the influx of Vietnamese refugees to Seattle, and other areas of the United States, due to the fall of Saigon in 1975.
This group of students brainstormed ideas of ways they could get involved and learn more about this historic community. They decided to start the Little Saigon Ambassadors club. The goal of the student-driven club is to help build a positive relationship between their school and the community.
The Little Saigon Ambassadors’ first initiative was to collect donations for the Asian Counseling Resource Services food bank located a few blocks from Summit Sierra High School. This is the only food bank in Washington state that regularly distributes foods that cater to Asian American and Pacific Islander diets, including healthy and nutritious staples like rice, tofu and produce.
“My favorite part of the Summit Sierra High School community is there are a lot of friendly people who want to help out each other,” said James Chen, an 11th grader at Summit Sierra High School and president of the Little Saigon Ambassadors.
The food drive got off to a good start, but the club realized they could do much more to encourage faculty, students, and families to donate items. The group developed an outreach plan to encourage more donations and participation for the school and reached out to their community outside of the school and soon more donations started to come in.
“The food drive has been a valuable learning moment for the students,” said Dustin Dacuan, the club’s faculty advisor and an English teacher at Summit Sierra. “Along with giving back to the community, they are learning community outreach strategies and engaging their families and friends in their education.”
From providing a neighborhood space for events like the Celebrate Little Saigon festival to supporting other nonprofits at their community events, it’s always been a priority to engage and contribute to a neighborhood that has welcomed our faculty, families and students with open arms. With the great work of the Little Saigon Ambassadors, Summit Sierra High School’s families, students and faculty look forward to continuing a strong relationship with the community and giving students opportunities to learn.
James notes, “I think it is important to give back to the community because it shows who we are as a people and that we want to spread smiles in our community.”
How do you give back to your community? What did you learn from volunteering your time? Tell us your story in the comments!