On Friday 25 May, nine Fahan School students left Tasmania to head to Vietnam for the 2012 World Challenge.
“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,” said Principal, Mr Tony Freeman.
“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,” said Tony.
The School’s World Challenge Team Leader, Mr Gary Gooley has been accompanying girls to Vietnam for a number of years and thinks the journey is a remarkable opportunity for Fahan girls to immerse themselves in another culture and learn to give back through volunteer work.
“Every time I have taken a trip to Vietnam for World Challenge, I’ve been delighted to see that the girls get more value out of volunteering than they do out of sight-seeing,” said Gary.
The three-week journey started in Ho Chi Minh City before heading into the 73,000 hectare Cat Tien National Park.
“We discovered who we are and found new ways of overcoming obstacles,” said Sasha Roubicek.
The tropical swamp forest, with its crocodiles, gibbons and elephants, is certainly a long way removed from the native forests of Tasmania.
Yet it was Hoi An, where the girls spent a week volunteering at the Quang Nam Centre for the Homeless and Disabled, that had the greatest impact on the students.
“It was hard work but the girls get a real sense of achievement from seeing the results and the happiness it brings,” said Gary.
The girls raised funds for the Centre, which they used to buy some much-needed resources: a washing machine, two walker frames and wheelchairs, vital medicine and food.
"We also had some dresses and shoes made up for the residents,” said Isobel Dunbabin who felt that the trip changed her perception of things for the better, without her even noticing. “It made me appreciate life even more.”
Jordan McGinty was humbled by the Centre’s residents. “They have so little yet are so happy. It was tough at times but at the end of the day, the challenges made it worthwhile.”
Elsie Anderson encouraged other Fahan girls to follow in her footsteps. “It was one of the best experiences of my life.”
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