Impacting Lives Through School Trips
- On March 21, 2019
- In GUIDE
For the past 5 years, groups of international students from Hong Kong have been coming to Vietnam to experience its diverse scenery, ancient history and fascinating culture. Wide Eyed Tours has been delivering engaging programs to students from Discovery College (DC) in Hong Kong focusing on culture, experience and service. This blog is brought to you by Eileen Cameron, the WET School Tours Program Manager who led the DC trips for the last 2 years.
Last year we overhauled the DC trip and wove even more magic into their itinerary. We brought the DC group to Hue, the former capital of Vietnam; this small Vietnamese city is a hidden jewel with a unique history, culture and even cuisine – an excellent destination for educational trips and the unsung hero of Vietnam in my opinion.
We also took a different approach to the service portion of the trip and partnered with a local NGO Hearts for Hue (H4H). This made the service project more streamlined, effective and connected more groups so a greater good was achieved. H4H liaise with local authorities to bring assistance to the many outlying and impoverished communities surrounding the former capital. Last year DC adopted a local commune called Phu Luong, about 15km from Hue. H4H arranged a handful of local university students to assist with translation and coordination of tasks to join forces with the 20 DC students and 2 teachers. The DC students designed & delivered ESL and music lessons, painted doors, windows and a fantastic mural. A bond grew between the visiting students and the primary students at Phu Luong Primary school and after the 3-day project tears were shed at the closing ceremony.
In the evenings in Hue the DC students learnt to cook on the banks of the Perfume River at a local family’s cooking class. Much to our amusement they also discovered that Hue has some of the hottest chilies in the country and a spontaneous chili eating competition ended with lots of laughs and some milk to douse the fire. We also had a dinner cruise on a dragon boat and learnt more of Hue’s fascinating culture on the city tour which included hands on activities like roll your own incense stick.
The second half of the week was spent in Hoi An. Instead of doing the countryside bike tour, last year we paddled the Hoi An River in twin kayaks and participated in a clean up on one of the islands where rubbish collects due to local tides. This excursion also had a lot of laughs but I can’t elaborate here. We visited the Ky Anh tunnels which although the third largest tunnel complex in Vietnam, are not well known. This gave the students a chance to experience rural life in a remote fishing village, and of course crawl through some tunnels for the brave (and tiny). There was time for some retail therapy in lantern lit Hoi An and some team building activities at the beach.
Once back in Hong Kong, DC decided to make Phu Luong school the target of their annual December fundraising day. The money raised will be used for upgrading the IT facilities for the Phu Luong commune which includes 2 primary schools and a secondary school. This project will be rolled out over the next few years however the goal is for DC students to run regular ESL and other classes for local students over the internet, as well as continuing with their annual trips, where more intense teaching and facility upgrades can be made.
Wide Eyed Tours is proud to work with schools like Discovery College and facilitate life changing trips that impact not only the visiting school but bring effective change to local communities in South East Asia. Contact WET to start creating a meaningful trip for students in your area.