By Sarah Lim, Grade 11 ISB Student
As a cello player and a member of the International School of Beijing (ISB) student body, I have always wanted to find a way to give back to the community through music. In the summer before grade 10, I was given the opportunity to participate in a voluntary program for musicians at Peking University Hospital.
The Arts in Hospital (AiH) program was originally established in 2015 by a professor at Peking University and it has flourished all around China ever since, with more than 100 volunteers willing to share their talents and help reduce the stress and anxiety that patients and their families may have. The program hosts daily performances throughout the year, in which anyone who plays an instrument or sings can help out.
My experience was spectacular. It was inspiring, enchanting, and extraordinary. I was amazed by how such a small contribution by a high school student could leave such a big impact. The patients, their families, and the hospital staff genuinely appreciated and valued the music they were hearing, and I could not be more grateful.
When I started grade 10 in the 2017-2018 school year, I instantly started looking for ways to bring the AiH program into the ISB community – I wanted the students here to feel and see what I did. I wanted them to know what kind of impact their sharing of talents and passion could leave on others.
I first contacted Mr. Tony Yu, an ardent violinist and conductor at ISB, to ask if he could help me establish this opportunity for music students and he kindly agreed to support my idea. With his help, I was able to build a brand-new service club of the same name: Arts in Hospital. The entire process of establishment, however, was not easy. It was, in fact, quite difficult to find students who were both devoted to music and willing to perform publicly in an unfamiliar venue. Thankfully, near the end of grade 10, I was joined by a group of talented and compassionate musicians who wanted to contribute and give back to the community.
A few weeks ago, we made our first visit of the year to Peking University Cancer Hospital in celebration of the Mid-Autumn Festival. We were warmly greeted and appreciated by the hospital staff and patients who were eager to hear authentic, heartwarming music. From singing traditional Chinese songs to playing beautiful, lively tunes on the flute, students provided a wide variety of soothing music to the audience.
We directly interacted with the patients, listened to their stories and wishes, and shared our mutual love for music. The purpose of this visit was to spread love and happiness through live musical performances and deliver hope to the patients at the hospital. Performing publicly in front of an unfamiliar audience was daunting for some students, but the wide smiles and sincere admiration from patients and staff helped them overcome their fears easily.
I believe that this meaningful experience helped us recognize once again how the smallest act of kindness can leave such a significant and positive impact on others. Having local patients, families and staff at hospitals appreciate the actions of ISB students is a one-of-a-kind experience.
I am looking forward to making many more visits to the hospital with my peers throughout the year; every visit will be particular and memorable to all of us. Our journey has only just begun.