An educational and humanitarian trip to Vietnam over the September school holidays enriched the lives of a group from Noosa District State High School.
Fifteen students, a lecturer from the University of the Sunshine Coast, the school nurse and her sister, and four Noosa District State High School teachers spent 14 days in Vietnam learning firsthand about the country's diverse culture, geography, fascinating history, food, religion and its friendly, generous, resilient people.
The group also conducted humanitarian work and service learning at a rural school in Cam My, Ngô Quyên Secondary School, located two hours north of Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon).
Highlights of the trip included a cruise and seafood lunch in the UNESCO World Heritage Halong Bay, exploring the limestone caves and being awestruck by the spectacular seascape of the limestone pillars that jut majestically from the jade coloured water.
Students also enjoyed staying in a luxurious Hoi An Resort with its poolside dining and indulgent (and very affordable) spa treatments.
The Hoi An Resort was also conveniently located near market stalls and outlets where students were able to have made to order beautiful one-of-a-kind formal dresses.
Students partook in a lantern making workshops and a cooking class in Hoi An and enjoyed the relaxed change of pace in the French-influenced seaside town.
The main focus of the trip was to undertake humanitarian work at Ngô Quyên Secondary School, where the students donated laptops provided by the Queensland University of Technology and built bicycles for the children, with many walking over ten kilometres each day to attend classes.
The Noosa High students found interacting with the Vietnamese students to be interesting, rewarding, inspiring and life-changing.
Ngô Quyên Secondary School's staff and students were overwhelmed with Noosa District State High School's generosity and it was moving to see the Vietnamese students receive gifts of toys, hats stationery and toiletries as they were hand delivered by the NDSHS students.
The Noosa High students were impressed with the talents of the Vietnamese students who were able to showcase their singing and practice their English with the help of the NDSHS students.
The NDSHS students raised money for the trip through volunteering at the Sunshine Coast Velothon and Ironman events, manning food and water stations for the competitors.
The school trip to Vietnam has augmented the lives of the Noosa High group, with many now planning their next overseas adventure and some reconsidering their personal values and career pathways, with a few students looking into the prospects of further missionary and humanitarian projects and teaching English as a second language (ESL).
The Vietnam trip has proven to be a wonderful educational experience, with many students learning so much about Vietnam as a country and, in so doing, acquired and learned so much about themselves.
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