CAS Project Part 2

In my last post, about my CAS/eagle project, I went over all of the planning phase for the project, with what my specific goal was and how I was going to get there. In this post, I’m going to show the physical work aspect of the project and the completion.

And so it began…

I didn’t actually start working on the bags immediately after the materials ordered for them had arrived. They had come on a Monday, and I wanted to get them all done in one massive batch, so I decided to wait until the weekend. On Friday, my mom helped me make a single bag of the pattern to see how it turned out, as well as how to most efficiently make them. I decided that the best course of action was to get through all the steps at a time, instead of making each one to completion and then starting the process again. This was because certain steps, like cutting the fabric into the correct shape and size, were done far more efficiently en masse. Doing each step all at once also increased the quality of the bags, as I would become very good at completing each step as it continued. Having decided on the order of events, we began at around 8 in the morning on Saturday. The goal was to produce about 35 bags by the end of the day, and fill them the next day. This was certainly going to be a challenge for me, as I didn’t really have much experience using a sewing machine or just making things out of fabric in general before this project, so I would have to learn a lot fast.

Speaking of steps, there were 6 distinct steps for making a bag

  1. Cutting the fabric pieces
  2. Making the initial stitches
  3. Making the secondary stitches
  4. Folding and ironing a part of the fabric(so it would be easier to sew)
  5. Sewing the “V” part of the fabric(for the drawstring to pass through)
  6. Cutting the ribbons for the drawstring and pulling them through

Let me just say, I’m very glad I set aside an entire day to make them because wow, it was time consuming. While I originally intended to go through each step on that list 35 times in a row before moving onto the next one, I ended up doing about 3 batches mainly because of how tired I was getting just doing the same thing over and over again. I’d say that each step was equally as time consuming, but I just kept going.

(measuring and cutting the fabric for the bags)

To my surprise however, there were relatively few issues along the way, and they all pertained to the sewing machine I was using. I didn’t think much of them, but it ended up as a major issue later in the day. Tragically, our family’s 50+ year old sewing machine properly broke down on us while I was using it at around bag 25. Luckily, I was able to borrow a sewing machine from some embassy friends but the process of finishing all the bags ended up getting delayed to the following weekend. I’m glad the only real problem I had was that easily solved.

(making the initial stitches)

(Now doing some of the more complex bits on the new machine)

In my last post, I had mentioned that I had placed a donation bin for travel sized toiletries at the embassy community liaison office(CLO). While I had expected that some people would probably donate items, I had no idea that I would get the huge response that I did. While I didn’t count the total amounts of everything people donated, we had more than 35 of every item to fill the bags with. It was really great to have the community support me like this, as without them a project like this wouldn’t have been possible.

With the items needed collected, the filling of the bags began.

(Sorting the items out before putting them into the bags)

(bags lined up and ready to fill)

Around this time, the blankets and pillows arrived from my Great Aunt, and so all the pieces of the project were together. The final step was simply putting them in the boxes and bringing it over to the embassy, which I did on February 5, 2020, marking the completion of my project.

(showing the individual bags to Mr.Groeneveld, the embassy representative who I corresponded and collaborated with throughout the project)


The entire process of this CAS project and Eagle Scout project has been a fantastic experience. I was able to learn so much as well as give back to a community that has always been supportive. Not only have I improved my hands on real world skills like sewing, I’ve mainly improved and learned how to collaborate in a professional manner and plan out a large project and execute said plan effectively. My actual product is quite interesting, in the sense that I hope that there is never a situation that requires it to be used, and I hope that all it has to do is sit on a shelf in the Embassy. I’m very grateful for an opportunity to apply ideas and things I’ve learned from boy scouts into this project, and I think it allowed me to make a lasting positive impact.

CAS/Boy Scout Eagle Project

Introduction to the Eagle Scout Project

In the Boy Scouts, there are 7 ranks that can be attained by completing sets of various and differing requirements. The ranks, Scout, Tenderfoot, Second Class, First Class, Star, Life, and Eagle, and the requirements that one has to do to achieve them are intended to be a journey, where a scout learns valuable life skills about all sorts of topics. The most well known of these ranks is the Eagle Scout, which is the highest attainable rank in BSA, and it is recognized and respected by many places, including universities, due to the amount of effort it takes to get there. Like the rest of the rank badges, the Eagle Scout badge has its own fair share of lengthy requirements, but one stands out amongst the rest. The Eagle Scout Service Project is a requirement that many Boy Scouts dread, due to the large amount of work that one has to put in, for both figuring out what you want to do and for the actual completion of the project. Since first joined boy scouts 7 years ago, I was always looking at the Eagle Project requirement in the handbook and wondering if I would ever make it that far, as well as what I would do. The time to choose has finally come after quite a while, and I think that I’m ready for it.

Like many boy scouts, I wasn’t really sure what I was going to do for my project. I had a couple of ideas floating around in my head, but I wasn’t really sure how achievable or impactful they would be. I spent much time deliberating what to do, until one day where I had a spontaneous moment of figuring it out. My mom and I had been talking about the 2019 easter attacks and how difficult it had been for the US Embassy staff because as well as having to deal with the aftermath of the attacks, they also had to help deal with many American citizens seeking refuge in the US Embassy. In particular, there was a severe lack of items like toiletries. Embassy staff had a difficult time finding these items for the people seeking refuge, and it was a stress on both the people taking refuge and the people trying to help them. This difficulty in particular stood out to me the most, as it seemed like one that be solved. While thinking about this, I came upon the idea of making a bunch of little toiletry kits with various items inside. My idea was that each kit would be a handmade bag and have basic toiletries and a blanket/pillow combo for someone to use. The kits would all be stored in a medium sized plastic box that could be put wherever and only be opened when needed, presumably in a situation of crisis. I envisioned that if they were ever needed, it would be extremely simple to give them out. I asked some embassy staff who were were working when the easter attacks happened what they thought of my idea, and they said that was great and a system of kits like that would be great in a crisis situation for people taking refuge at the embassy. That was the final step in deciding that I wanted this to be my Eagle Scout project and CAS project.

Pretty soon after coming to this conclusion about what I wanted to do, I began to reach out to certain people at the US embassy to see if this was actually feasible. While I knew that it would be logistically possible, I wasn’t really sure if it was gonna be legally possible. What I mean is that I was unsure if there would be complications for working with a government agency entity like the Embassy, and if I would need any special permissions. Luckily, it turned out that it was completely feasible in that regard, and there would be no issues whatsoever working with the embassy.

Plan Time Started

After getting the part about working with the Embassy sorted, I began to make a detailed plan of what exactly I should include in each kit. I made a detailed list of items, as well as an estimated number of kits, and then went to meet with the embassy representative I was communicating with. During our meeting, he gave me some ideas about what to change on the list of items and what he thought should be included. One of the big changes that I made to my original list was the specifics about the blankets and pillows. Previously, I had intended to include a small blanket and pillow with every kit, so that if somebody had to sleep on a floor, bench, hospital waiting room, or just about wherever, they could be more comfortable. During the meeting, we agreed that we probably wouldn’t need 30+ pillows and blankets and that the bags would have to be quite large to fit them. I decided that the bags and pillows could therefor go in their own small plastic box(small black and yellow durable home depot type boxes) next to the box with the kits, and to only have x12 pillows and blanket combos. Following the conclusion of this meeting, I came up with the exact items needed and how many bags were to be made.

Using an online pattern, I planned to make 35 bags. Each bag would contain a travel sized shampoo, conditioner, bodywash, soap, toothbrush, toothpaste, and pack of wetwipes.

To collect these items, I have a donations collection bin located at the community liaison office(CLO) at the embassy where people can drop off items. Through the CLO, I also sent out an email to the entire embassy community announcing the donation collection bin. My thought for doing the donation collection bin was that it gave members of the embassy community a chance to connect to the project and that it would be a good way to get rid of all of their excess travel toiletries without throwing them away. I figured that other embassy families and people would have similar amounts of unused toiletries from flights and hotels sitting around, and judging by huge response I got, I was right.

I also ordered the materials, which ended up being:

  • 8 square yards of blue flannel fabric(for the bags)
  • 20 yards of ribbon(for the drawstrings on the bags)
  • 500 yards of blue thread(for the actual sewing)

Now, the bags were one thing, but the pillows and blankets were another story altogether. The one material I had difficulty finding availability of was stuffing for the pillows. To get around this, I reached out to my great aunt, an avid seamstress who lives in the US and asked her if she would be willing to help with regards to the pillows and blankets. After emailing back and forth to finalize the measurements of exactly what I wanted them to be, she began to work on them and said that she would mail them in a couple of weeks. This was the last element of the planning before I began the large task of producing all of the bags and filling them.

In my next post, I will detail the production of the bags and the completion of the project.

An Introduction to Boy Scouts

I’d like to start out by saying that this definitely isn’t a new activity for me. I’ve been participating in BSA(Boy Scouts of America) for the last 7 years of my life, since 5th grade. I’ve never really mentioned it mainly because I just assumed that it wasn’t something that could be counted for CAS, but I was told otherwise, so here it is. Doing Boy Scouts in Sri Lanka presents a unique challenge as there was actually no pre-existing troop here for me to join when I arrived. In years past, I’ve always been a part of a troop some place or another, even in locations like Kenya. However, since there is no troop here, I take part in what is called the “Lone Scout” program. In the LS program, I directly correspond with the nearest council(in my case, Osaka Japan) and send whatever completed work I have there. My mom serves as my scoutmaster, but this doesn’t mean I’m skipping requirements or having the work done for me. If anything, everything I do falls under more scrutiny than the average Boy Scout.

My mom and I have our official scout meetings every Sunday at 11:00am, and I get dressed in my uniform as I would if I were going to a real troop. This is important as makes sure that I’m in the mindset for Boy Scouts, and not just treating at as a regular part of my day. We’ve been doing this since August of 2018, when I moved to Sri Lanka. As mentioned previously, I’ve been doing Boy Scouts for the last 7 years, and am currently a Life Scout. For those unfamiliar with the boy scout ranks, they go as follows(lowest to highest) Scout, Tenderfoot, Second Class, First Class, Star Scout, Life Scout, and Eagle Scout. Eagle Scout is easily the most well known one, as it is the highest and requires a huge amount of effort.

I’m currently in the process of working on my Eagle Scout badge, and am almost there. While there are plenty of requirements for Eagle Scout, the most famous(or infamous, depending on who you ask) is the Eagle service project. The Eagle service project is a service project that the Scout decides on, which then has to be approved by their council before starting. Once the project is completed, the Scout has to send a moderately lengthy report to their council, which goes to the BSA headquarters to be approved. This process takes months, which is unfortunate for me as I become too old for Boy Scouts in July of 2020, meaning that I have approximately 1 chance to get it right. In fact, I’m actually almost done with the physical aspect of my Eagle Scout project, and will fully explained it in it’s own blog post.

Here are some pictures from some of the things I’ve done, the first is me working on a computer for the Family Life merit badge and the second is me updating my uniform with some stuff I’ve earned.

Gecko Network Update 28.11.2019

“Mediocre things are better than no things” is the phrase that we’re trying to force ourselves to live by at Gecko Network, in regards to Gecko News. At the start of the year, I was appointed by Anuda(our service leader) to head a team to specifically produce Gecko News, and nothing else. Originally, I was planning to produce 2 per month, where we could cover a variety of content, but this is far from what actually happened. It’s 3 months in to the year and so far, we’ve produced none. Now, while this does sound pretty bad(0% of our target), there have been many unique factors which contributed to this, though the main one the being the amount of school Thursdays missed from a combination of days off and SAISA. Despite these challenges, I’ve got a new script format that will us to make the scripts quickly and get used to recording them. The one video that we’re guaranteed to produce is the semester 1 wrap-up for the end of semester assembly.

Other than undertaking the definite challenge of Gecko News, Gecko Network has certainly been busy. As a group, we’ve produced 3 videos and hundreds of great photos from all the events that were had this semester. The SAISA video this year was something that I helped with, and it was awesome. In years past, all the SAISA videos we’ve made are 3 separate videos from the 3 different sports, but this year we combined them into one great montage. The production video wasn’t something I was super involved in, but I helped out with the coordination between Gecko Network and the musical, so that they could take pictures, and that video turned out as one of the best ones we’ve made.

I know this isn’t a particularly long update, but I wanted to give a heads up of what’s going on at Gecko Net. I’ll post the semester 1 recap video once we finish with it, and stay tuned for more.

CAS Goals 2019-2020

The start of the new school years marks the start for another round of CAS activities. This year, I’m doing pretty much the same as last year with some exception and changes. The 2018-2019 school year was really great for me in terms of the things I did, and I grew as both a person and in terms of skill within these activities.

Creativity – concert band+Playing for the musical

While I’m continuing with concert band, this year is gonna be a little different. That’s because this is the year where the winter gala is replaced with a musical, and some band members play for it. Unlike the regular concert band, you had to be specially invited to play in it, and I was. It will take place after school on Mondays between 2:50 and 4:30, meaning that I can do both of these things. I’m very excited for it as I think it will really help my skills as  a musician, with effectively double the ensemble practice time.

Activity – SAISA swimming

This year marks my 8th year of doing swimming as a sport, and also my last, meaning that I’ve got to make it really worth it. To do this, I’ve set some goals that will help me improve as a swimmer, and I’m going to reach for them with all I have. After all, it’s my last chance at high-school swimming. I’m also a team captain this year, meaning that I have to also look out for the rest of the team, which is a good sized responsibility.

My first goal is pretty simple, to drop time on all my events. While it’s a generic goal, it’s also a good one. Despite me not swimming every event at SAISA, I feel like my general swimming ability should improve. Additionally, I’m looking to get better at some events in particular. These are the 200 freestyle, the 50 butterfly, the 100 butterfly, and the 400 freestyle. I want to really get better at these events because I really enjoy swimming them and I’m actually fairly decent at them already. Still, it’ll be a challenge to improve that’s going to take a lot of effort on my part.

My second goal is to be a good team captain. I know that saying “good” is a really ambiguous term, but I think that it’s important to

Service – Gecko Network

Last year was something of a orientation year for me in gecko network. While there wasn’t that much content initially put out, the production of content picked up over the year. However, I still feel that there is room for further improvement, where we actually push ourselves to learn and create as well as we can. Therefore, my goal is to be responsible and put out more, higher quality videos, for both regular gecko network and for gecko news. I also want to improve on my editing skills, something which I began to learn last year but never fully invested in. It’s going to be difficult, as I’m coming from essentially no experience to making good videos, but I think I can do it.


That wraps up my goals for the semester/year for now. I will update this post in semester 2 to reflect activities that change, like swimming or Oliver band.

Gecko Network – Gecko News Semester Recap

The Setup

This semester has been jam packed with all sorts of events, ranging through a variety of categories. All of the season one SAISAs, UN and Founder’s day, the welcome back picnic, and a bunch of others that I’m probably going to forget as I write this. The point is, I think that every single student at OSC has been a part of one or more of the aforementioned events, and their efforts should be recognized and celebrated. To help with this, we at Gecko Network decided that we wanted to put out a semester recap video, with the specific purpose of highlighting every single event of the first semester.

I was and am impressed, surprised, and honored that I was chosen to work on this project. I wasn’t alone though, which is a good thing because I’m still a rookie in the scheme of things. I was put on a team with Milo and Phillipe. Milo and I were assigned to the main duties, and Phillipe was tasked with taking care of things like correspondence for interviews and getting names and dates. Our go to agent, if you will. We started with the script, because scripts are the skeletons for videos, you can’t do without for something like this.

The Boring Part

When we began, Milo already had about half of a script in a rough draft. I decided that while Milo would finish up the rest of the script, I would comb through and make edits, changes, and corrections for what was done. We both agreed that this would be the best way to do things, as therefore the general style of the script would be similar.  Starting from the top, I began the long process of trying to condense/improve the script and making sure that they were things that we could say/pass off normally. We used the entirety of the service meeting on Thursday the the 15th to do this, and planned to record the following week. I also made lots of changes at home, after second thoughts about the edits I made.

If making the script was all it took to produce an end of semester recap video, then it wouldn’t be all that much work. If only that was the case, as the hardest part was yet to come by the time we had finished and recorded a few takes of the script. The next step was to compile preexisting footage of the events that we mention, and to get interviews from some of the people involved. Gathering the footage that we had was annoying enough already, with what equated to dozens of hours of video to sift through. In addition to that, the semester was still not over and there were things that we needed to also get video of, including the Senior Production and Winter Gala. There was also the interviews with the captains of the SAISA teams that were left.

After slogging through that process, we started to stitch together our creation, piece by piece. I’ll admit that I am quite rubbish at video editing, so do feel like I weighed down the team quite a bit during this process. The best I could do was help with creative decisions on what the flow of the video would be like. While I have improved leaps and bounds with my editing ability and my knowledge of the software, I still don’t think I’m ready to fully handle a project like this. I’ll wait till a smaller one comes up for me to test my skills. Maybe next semester. Once we finished with it, we ran it by Anuda and a few others for suggestions on improvements. Seeing how the entire school would be viewing it, this is not something to mess up.

To Be Continued?……..

And that’s where I leave it. There are two weeks left till we have to show it to everyone, and you can bet that we will be making improvements and changes to it the entire time. With any luck, people will at least accept it…. I think. This is certainly the most amount of time that I’ve put into any Gecko Network project, and I think that it will show, in a good way.  

Gecko Network Update – 15.10.2018

First off, I must apologize for not saying anything about Gecko Network or making posts about it or anything. It’s kind of hard to say a huge amount about it, but I’ll try. I also apologize again for the lack of photos, as Gecko Network takes photos of other services, not itself.


When I first joined Gecko Network, I was deeply worried about being a handicap and having no idea what was going on, due to my lack of knowledge of video editing. I had never edited a more professional video, and never with expensive software. I also was worried that I wouldn’t know how to operate one or more of the fancy camera rigs that Gecko Network has. Those initial few weeks made me feel like the biggest idiot there was. Everyone was working hard and efficiently, knowing how to do the tasks that they were assigned, while I was standing around knowing not how to do anything. I started to pick up some things, like the vocabulary of what the other people where doing, but not nearly enough to be competent or useful. Luckily, the service leader recognized it and gave me a break by putting me in positions more alined to that of a director. I found that these were actually the positions I enjoyed the most. It wasn’t just because it was my only option, it made me genuinely happy and satisfied to see my views or ideas come together in front of me. I actually found it similar to being a patrol leader in Boys Scouts, in regards to interacting with people. I tried to be a good director, and I listened to everything that the people editing the videos told me. I think I might have found one of my creative strengths through this though, being able to close my eyes and see my vision of something.

So far, Gecko Network has published around 12 videos. These vary in length, and I’ve been a part of 2 of them. For the SAISA Swimming video, I was director, and for the canteen pre-order instructional video, I co-directed and also starred in it as an actor. Of the 2, the SAISA Swimming video was definitely more intense and required more. The purpose of this video was to help hype up the swim team for the masses at the upcoming pep-rally(even though they didn’t play the video there). It was actually my first project, but the editors I was paired up with were both great to work with and helped me through the process(even though the director should know these things…). Our final product was OK, it’s issues mainly coming from the sudden shock of having a deadline suddenly shifted on us(long story that happened rather quickly). My second project was the Canteen Pre-order system instructional video. This was a small assignment, that only required two meetings and a little bit of outside work to complete. The video was meant to demonstrate how to properly use the new system in the canteen, so it wasn’t long or complicated. I did enjoy the more straightforwards way of working on these uncomplicated videos, it was a nice refresher after the swimming one.

Here’s the link to both of them


Be on the lookout for more in the future, we have some big plans here at Gecko Network, and I think that they’ll be interesting. While I won’t say too much, we do have some mini-documentaries about the other services coming up soon, and some other neat stuff about the things that go on at OSC.