ON THE TOOLS: St Andrews students worked in Cambodia during their holidays.
ON THE TOOLS: St Andrews students worked in Cambodia during their holidays.

Peregian students enjoy an overseas holiday with purpose

INSTEAD of lazing away the school holidays, more than 50 students from St Andrew's College Peregian have stepped beyond the bounds of their everyday, to make a difference to the lives of others.

Over the two-week school holiday period, the students ranging from Years 8-12, participated in a variety of projects and trips across the globe, including Japan, Spain, Thailand and Cambodia which are part of St Andrew's award-winning Global Opportunities (GO) program. Through either a service or experiential learning program, students develop global perspectives and cultural intelligence as well as knowledge, skills and values in a non-traditional academic setting.

It was an especially enlightening and life-changing few weeks for students in Years 10-12 who spent 12 days in Cambodia, completely immersing themselves in the culture and gaining authentic with those less fortunate, including visiting the S21 prison and the Killing Fields, teaching children in a primary school and partnering with locals to build a toilet block and veggie garden in a remote village.

Teacher, Mr Shaun Cleary, said he was proud at the way students at St Andrew's were defying the stereotypes of the "Me Generation."

"I'm often perplexed when some older generations hastily discount the youth of today," Mr Shaun Cleary said.

"This next generation have got it so right. Their consideration for a need greater than their own, their kindness and compassion are exactly what the world needs today.

"We are very proud to be a part of the St Andrew's community, that gets the "bigger picture" and grateful to have been afforded this opportunity to have shared this journey of personal growth with the students.

"Let's never forget that life's lessons don't end with school, but that every day is a unique opportunity to continue to learn and grow, so that in even in our own small way back home - we are empowered to collectively contribute to a better tomorrow for all."

From pouring cement, shovelling, sweating, spending hours pulling out weeds, to playing games of duck duck goose and making bracelets with local primary school children, Year 12 student Chelsea said the opportunity had changed her for the better.

"This trip has helped me grow as a person, not only in who I am but also my beliefs," Chelsea said.

"The opportunity we have been presented with to give back to others in need and experience a whole new and exciting culture is a big reason as to why I signed up for this trip."

"I appreciate the importance of giving back more than I did before. I believe that we get caught up within our western world and sometimes forget how lucky we really are."

Year 10 student Bronte, now plans to take what she has learnt during her time in Cambodia, and make changes in her daily life.

"I came to help. I came to experience. I came to learn. But also came to prove many things to myself. I came to show myself that I can make a difference and to be put in a situation with many other like-minded people with these same goals," Bronte said.

"It is important for us, the youth of this world, to be thrown into a myriad of challenges that would never have been hardships in our own country, but I am now faced with a new challenge, to apply this within our western bubble each and every in each and every way."

Meanwhile, Year 8 students travelled to Thailand where they visited elephant sanctuaries, volunteered in local schools, learnt about child sponsorship programs and assisted locals in building a new school dormitory in a village that the College has been visiting for the past 6 years.

A further 12 students spent a month at the Colleges' Partner Schools in Spain and Japan, where they were hosted by school families and immersed in local life in order to expand their global perspectives and further develop their Cultural Intelligence.

The GO Program won the Best Co-curricular category at the recent Australian Educator Awards. This program aims to place the students in situations where they will need to demonstrate independence, leadership, critical thinking and servanthood and is closely linked to the curriculum in order to leverage the knowledge and skills that have already been developed in the classroom.

It is hoped that, through these experiences, the students will develop an ability to thrive in different cultural situations and become more equipped to bring about positive change both globally and locally.