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Mission Possible
Service learning takes on a new meaning as students and faculty participate in Operation Smile
Celebrating a successful surgery in post-op
In January, a group of dedicated FIS students and faculty embarked on a journey to the rural Indian village of Panskura with one sole mission: to bring smiles – both
literally and  guratively – to patients with cleft lips, cleft palates and other facial deformities.
Alongside doctors, nurses and surgeons from the global non-pro t Operation Smile, three faculty and eight Grade 11 and 12 students – all in the throes of their IB studies
– spent four days helping welcome families to the hospital, organize medical records, assist in pre-op procedures and make patients feel as comfortable as possible before and after surgery. In an unexpected opportunity, the students were also able to watch as surgeons operated on some of the 179 patients they saw during the week.
“It was an amazing experience to see the transformation taking place right before your eyes,” said Grade 12 student Paige. “The doctors explained everything they were doing along the way.”
The unique experience in the operating room was a  rst for student participants, with the exception of Paige, who has been involved with the organization for the past seven years. Paige was born in India where she lived until age 12 and as a Grade 5 student, participated in her  rst two Operation Smile missions. The experiences had a profound e ect on her and her passion for the project followed her to FIS when she and her family moved to Germany in 2010. As a new student in Grade 6, she took advantage of the Upper School’s strong service learning program and started an FIS chapter of Operation Smile.
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“It obviously wasn’t as strong with a middle school student trying to lead the group, but by Grade 8 things really picked up,” she said.
It is a fully immersive and life- changing mission that I was honored to be a part of.
That was the same year that current Grade 12 student, Emily, joined Operation Smile at FIS, helping to bring it to the forefront of the school’s other service learning groups. As she and other seniors near graduation in June, the trip provided a meaningful culmination of years of work in support of Operation Smile. “This visit cemented my belief that this is an organization that does absolutely amazing work,” Emily said. “It is a fully immersive and life-changing mission that I was honored to be a part of.”
“The trip most de nitely reinforced all of the trust I already had in Operation Smile’s views and morals,” Grade 11 student Anais added. “It made me incredibly proud to be a member of such a wonderful organization.”
FIS faculty who joined the trip also witnessed the impact the experience had on students. “The actual service that is taking place on these trips is so lasting,” said ICT Coordina- tor, Dianna Pratt. “For our students, they were able to interact with the doctors and nurses, and some are now considering a possible career in medicine where they can

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