ISC Program Moves Seniors Forward

The Innovation for Social Change project (ISC) is the senior graduation project which has now refocused on social and environmental problems, rather than just being an internship at a business.

The purpose of the ISC project is for the student to focus on finding an innovative project that goes out into the community in Medellín and makes a difference, but it doesn’t necessarily mean for the student to experience a job as an employee at a business. In the past, the then called Independent Study Project (ISP) used to be a kind of internship at a job, with the student observing how a business of their choice works, gaining experience from working, performing the roles of an employee, and finding some strategies to improve their performance within the company. 

“[Basically], By the end of your senior year at The Columbus School, you have to think of an innovative project that goes out into the community in Medellín and makes some kind of difference and ideally, it’s like you’re addressing a social issue or something that students are passionate about. Whether it’s climate, the environment, the LGBTQ community, they get to choose,” Agata Prymicz, ISC Course Counselor, said.

Most of the program changes were initiated by former TCS teacher, Alysa Perreras. Nonetheless, the program is now coordinated by Technology teacher Camilo Hoyos. The project is now more centered on DEIJ (Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Justice), the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, and long-term sustainable solutions that the seniors can create to solve their problems so even after they graduate their solutions can keep working.

“It’s not just going to a company and learning how to work because producing is cool, we all need money, but it’s not everything. In fact, it’s dangerous when you don’t do it responsibly. We waste resources, we are unfair to society and to the environment, we’re literally killing the planet. So we decided to change it to ISC, to actually create a measurable impact in terms of social well-being and now environmental well-being,” Camilo Hoyos, 12th-grade Business Technology Teacher, and ISC Course Leader, said.

The project is constantly getting modifications and improvements from all the mediators. Perreras worked on perfecting the model for several years during her tenure as the project’s leader. The course mediators can also make minor changes such as changes in the delivery of the project and not so much in the content of it.

“The changes I’ve made right now are at a curricular level, kind of like the delivery method, but not the content, [it remains the same] with some improvements, though the delivery is a little bit different,” Hoyos said. “It’s not just to write a paper and ‘that’s it’, no. I want them to use genially, to use a website, to use interactive images. It’s more in the delivery.”

 Seniors choose their projects based on their interests from topics such as the environment, community, social issues, sustainable changes. The project officially begins after the Christmas break, which is the reason why at this time of the year many of the students don’t know what they want to do, but some of them already have an idea of what they want to work on.

“I didn’t have projects in mind. I was thinking of a short-term solution for a small problem, but I decided to go for a bigger change in a bigger community,” Sarah Restrepo, Senior, said. “I’ve been thinking about working on a family business called Apolo, I want to create something to promote people to drink water from the aqueduct instead of buying more expensive water at markets and besides it having a plastic package.”

For the last few weeks, the students have worked on activities related to the project but haven’t been introduced to the project itself, like work about social and environmental issues and their solutions, learning how to manage different resources to present their project, and getting to know the problems in the community.

“[Right now], We are doing a lot of activities to know about social issues and possible solutions. Outside school I am learning about aqueducts and how to create consciousness about tap water being potable to drink,” Restrepo said.

The project is mainly focused on making a positive change in society or the environment, a sustainable solution that can prevail even after the students stop working on their project, which might have an encouraging and comforting effect on the seniors.

“I feel that if we can generate a change, even if it’s big or small, short-term or long-term; it really has an impact and it’s really satisfying to know that we’re not doing this just to graduate, we are leaving a trace at our school and our community, and that’s what’s truly rewarding,” Juliana Mira, Senior, said.