Creating Change that is Bigger than We are – The ISP and Happy Caravan Partnership

One of the missions of the upcoming Virtual Gala Night is to raise awareness about ISP’s partnership with Happy Caravan. Upper School Change-makers will explain the value of this International Schools award-winning partnership at the online version of ISP’s premier social event on Saturday 8 May!

In 2017, ISP entered an official partnership with a growing educational organisation, Happy Caravan, then a one-classroom school located in a refugee camp in Greece. Happy Caravan brings a safe, transformative school program to refugee children in Greece, at the Thermopylae Refugee Center in Lamia and the Malakasa Refugee Camp. 

The impact on the Happy Caravan, through the guidance and expertise of ISP Educators and the enthusiasm of student teachers has been very beneficial for the school. For many within the ISP community, however, their involvement with Happy Caravan has been truly transformative. 

As ISP Alumna Vivi, then 11th grader who volunteered at Happy Caravan, put it – “I went on this trip to become a volunteer and help teach the refugee children English and Maths. But as it turns out, they did most of the teaching and I did most of the learning. Not only did we learn the skills needed to work with children of a traumatic past before departing, but every moment I spent at the camp with the kids I learnt something”.

The theme of being mutually beneficial to both organisations is one that runs through all aspects of the partnership. Happy Caravan has benefited from stable access to ISP’s professional, experienced and highly-knowledgeable educators, who made a real time commitment to Happy Caravan, in many cases giving up holidays to teach in person in Greece. A greater number of educators from all sections of ISP have met frequently to contribute to the Happy Caravan curriculum and teaching materials. Faculty and students have attested to the transformative power of being present at Happy Caravan. 

Several students who have visited Happy Caravan as student teachers have described the experience as nothing short of life-changing. Other members of the ISP community got involved by donating to various drives and by conversations about the possibilities to support and learn about Happy Caravan. The partnership’s prominence at ISP’s social highlight of the year, the Virtual Gala Night, is the latest manifestation of this. 

The partnership with Happy Caravan provides an opportunity for the personal development of ISP’s faculty and students. More than that, the time and emotional investment of a number of ISP faculty and students have meant that the partnership is a coherent and sustaining relationship, rather than a ‘one-off’ service venture in a small corner of the school. Closely aligned to the school mission, current Grade 12 and change-maker Tereza said; “This partnership is a living example of the school’s mission made real, the type of school it wants to be”.

ISP’s close relationship with Happy Caravan, has allowed ISP to display a clear commitment to social responsibility and to education in a wider context, beyond the confines of the ISP campus. There are so many examples of how ISP and Happy Caravan have displayed their commitment to education through their partnership by publishing several articles on print and social media. The value of the partnership was recently recognised worldwide – with it being chosen for a prestigious International School Award in the International Impact Category

With such commitment and transformational experiences, not to mention the prominence of the ISP-Happy Caravan partnership at Virtual Gala Night, the connection between the two schools looks to only grow more in the coming years! To learn more about Happy Caravan see this video.