A Life Changing Challenge in Vietnam

12 July 2011

Published in

parents, staff, students


On May 22, six Fahan students, Fahan’s Outdoor Education Coordinator, Gary Gooley, and World Challenge Team Leader, Georgie Cain, undertook a life-changing month long trip to Vietnam to learn valuable life skills and expand their minds outside of the classroom.

For the past 20 years World Challenge has designed and delivered outdoor educational programs for school groups in 45 destinations around the world.

As well as being introduced to a culture very different from their own in Vietnam, the Fahan girls were required to plan, budget and fund the expedition.

“We were given a lot of responsibility in the planning of the trip and this made the experience so much more rewarding,” Year 10 student, Abbey Studley, said.

In addition to cultural exchange and trekking, a main focus of World Challenge is for school groups to participate in community project work within the country they are visiting.

“The value in programs such as World Challenge is that they provide students with a first-hand look at a world that is very different to the one with which they are familiar,” Fahan Principal, Mr Tony Freeman, said.

“By being exposed to the lives of people who are less fortunate and actively participating in projects that seek to improve their lives, students become better, more compassionate global citizens.

“This is something that we strive to promote at Fahan.”

The Fahan students enthusiastically undertook their community project in the beachside town of Hoi An where they assisted at the Quang Nam Centre for Homeless and Disabled.

The girls spent five days painting and helping out around the Centre and said that it was incredible to see the difference they had made, in a short space of time, to the lives of the people living there.

“When it was time to leave the Centre we were all quite sad, but also touched by how we had been able to make a difference,” Abbey said.

“At the end of our community project work we were able to buy some new items for the Centre with the money we had raised prior to leaving Tasmania, including a year’s worth of medical supplies, two exercise machines, 26 wall fans and an electrician to install them, toys and games and 25 wide-brim hats,” Abbey said.

With the remaining money the students organised to sponsor two disabled children for a year.

The sponsorship will pay for educational and nursing services, physiotherapy, dental and health bills and a home where both the children can live.

The girls also went on a six-day trek through the mountainous region of Sapa during their time in Vietnam.

They walked for seven hours a day up and down hills and along rice paddy walls. During the nights, they stayed in local homes.

“Our trekking guide, Huong, was quite the showman and, at night, he sometimes joined us in Karaoke sessions,” Abbey said.

The final part of the expedition involved a relaxing tour of the limestone islands in Ha Long Bay where the girls had the opportunity to kayak, swim, walk and rest.

The girls also had a chance encounter with a member of the Fahan Alumni in Hoi An.

Judy Wallace (Chesterman ’58) approached the girls after she recognised the Fahan logo and spent some time talking to them about their trip and the work they had been doing on their World Challenge project.

You can find out more about World Challenge by visiting their website www.wordchallenge.com.au

To view more photos from the trip click here to visit the photo gallery.

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