“Even after the DP was done and dusted for me, I was still chasing that passion that I had discovered through CAS.”
A big part about going through the motions in the IB was completing the community service component. Creativity, activity, service, or CAS as it’s known, is an integral part in the IB Diploma Programme (DP) and is one of the components of the DP core. While CAS and its inner workings have changed over the years, its goals remain the same. CAS provides a balance to a student’s life, shifting from being purely focused on studies to being balanced between academics and activities outside of the classroom.
The CAS programme has given many students, like myself, an opportunity to shine even outside the classroom. I was fortunate to come from a school that always gave us opportunities to do things that benefited the people around us. I was also fortunate enough to have a CAS coordinator in school that always kept us on track and told us when there were new CAS opportunities on the horizon. In 2015, I learned about an event that was being held at my school, IGB International School in Malaysia. I was told that it was a charity event where people would run for 24 hours and that they needed volunteers and photographers. I fit the bill so, I signed up; not really knowing what I was getting myself into. The weekend of the event, I took hundreds of photos, walked 18 thousand plus steps while helping out and I got a pretty nasty tan from being out in the sun. Most importantly, I walked away from the event with a sense of appreciation for the event and the cause that it was fighting for.
The event? The 24 Hour Race.
“I had learned many lessons throughout my time taking the DP, one of which was to step out of my comfort zone and take risks.”
The 24 Hour Race actually started in 2010 as a CAS project by its founder, Christopher Schrader of Li Po Chun United World College of Hong Kong. It had a simple concept: You ran for 24 hours as a team and raised money for the fight against modern day slavery and human trafficking. Students formed groups of 8 and raised funds that were then donated to grassroots charities that helped in the fight against modern day slavery and human trafficking. The teams would run for 24 hours in a relay, with one runner running at all the time throughout the 24 hours. The concept of the 24 hours was meant to give the participants a sense of how it feels to be a victim of slavery and trafficking; to have to fight for their freedom and constantly be on the run. From its inception, the 24 Hour Race has had the ideals of the IB running through its veins. Risk-taking, open mindedness, having a global perspective—all of these things have shaped how the 24 Hour Race is today.
While the race initially started as a simple CAS project, bright minds of youth all around the world have come together to evolve the race into what it is today: the highlight of the year for many high school students and a time where they can do something to give back to the world that has given them so much. From Hong Kong, the race has now expanded to many more cities including Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, New York, Cardiff and Tokyo.
Since taking part in the 2015 race, I have played a part in it every year to date. I took on many roles, one of them being a medical first aider, taking on the responsibility of ensuring the safety of a 1000 plus people, most of which included running for hours. After completing the DP and graduating in May of 2018, I decided to take a gap year. Even after finishing the IB, I was still hungry for more opportunities to give back to the world while also developing myself. I had learned many lessons throughout my time taking the DP, one of which was to step out of my comfort zone and take risks. So, I did just that.
Hit the ground running
“I may have thrown myself into the deep end with no floaties, but ultimately, it was worth it.”
Knowing I would have time on my hands, I took on a much bigger role and became the Deputy Executive Director of the 2018 24 Hour Race in Kuala Lumpur. I was now occupying the second highest position within the Malaysian 24 Hour Race committee. My new position meant that I would be leading the different committees within the race’s organizational committee as well as assisting the Executive Director in coordinating the race. I had applied on the basis that I was an operations expert, specializing in handling medical matters after having stood in as the Acting Director of Health & Safety the previous year. However, the role now meant that I would have to handle finances, business development and marketing on top of just logistics. I had never taken a single class on finance or accounting. This scared me immensely as this was uncharted territory for me. There was going to be no tutorial or no trial period. I had to hit the ground running.
Despite my doubts about my own capability to pull off such a role, I took it up anyway. Over the next few months, I did things that I would never have imagined I would do. I met with representatives of some Fortune 500 companies to gain sponsorships from Shell and Nestlé among others. I handled an inflow of over RM300,000 and completed budgeting work and expense sheets. I also met with the Malaysian Deputy Minister for Youth and Sports and other senior government officials in Malaysia to help garner support for the event. All of this without any prior experience in how these things were done. CAS had been a catalyst for me to find a passion I could throw myself into it. I may have thrown myself into the deep end with no floaties, but ultimately, it was worth it. Even after the DP was done and dusted for me, I was still chasing that passion that I had discovered through CAS.
CAS may seem like a chore to you, with the projects seeming like such daunting tasks, but remember, you can achieve great things with CAS. It doesn’t have to be something you drag your feet on. Turn your passion into a dream; use that dream to power yourself, and you can go on to do great things. The 24 Hour Race started as one IB student’s goal to bring together the tenacity of youth and the dream of doing something great for this world and today, it’s a global youth movement that has raised over 3 million US dollars for charities. So, what’s stopping you from dreaming big, taking risks, going out there and finding something to call your own?
Ernest Ng graduated from IGB International School in Malaysia and is currently on a gap year before he continues his studies at Dalhousie University in Canada where he’ll be studying neuroscience. An active member of the Malaysian Model United Nations community, he’s also an avid footballer and volleyball player. You can connect with him on LinkedIn here.
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