STUDENTS and teachers from Bega High School travelled through Cambodia recently on a trip designed to “teach students resilience and a clearer idea of the world they live in”.
This is the fifth year that BHS’s Human Society and its Environment (HSIE) department have taken students on an overseas study tour to South East Asia.
“When the first study tour was proposed we were met with some disbelief and hesitation, now four trips later it’s more common to hear, ‘When can we go?’” Year 9 adviser and head of HSIE Sharon Champagne said.
“Over time the study tours have changed in focus from showing the students a country to having the students give something back to the country through fundraising and community work.”
This year, BHS students from Years 9, 10 and 11 travelled to Cambodia, a country still struggling to rebuild its economy after years of war.
Before going, the students, staff and parents raised close to $10,000, including a generous donation from the school’s SRC.
The money was used to deliver programs and assistance to worthwhile humanitarian projects in Cambodia including the Landmines Museum, a women’s education centre, painting a school and funding a toilet block at a school the 2011 study tour group had visited.
Students got a sense of the traumatic history of the country by visiting an area outside the capital Phnom Phen that was one of the country’s infamous “killing fields”, where enemies of the country’s Khmer Rouge regime where murdered.
They also visited a museum commemorating Khmer Rouge victims and a prison from the time.
There were happier highlights for the group, including elephant rides, language lessons and a trip to the ancient ruins at Angkor Wat.
They also enjoyed a visit to Tiny Toones, a NGO-funded dance school that uses break-dancing and the culture of hip-hop to engage, inspire and educate young people.
The driving force behind the fundraising for the student’s philanthropy was BHS teacher Denise Perry, who ensured that targets were met, funds were distributed, everyone participated and all donations went to worthwhile causes.
The school noted that no fundraising was used to pay for students or teachers’ fares and accommodation.
BHS is now in the planning stages for its 2013 trip, which will take in Vietnam in addition to Cambodia.
To start the fundraising tomorrow the school will host a range of market stalls selling Cambodian and Vietnamese products as well as a range of craft items, as well as tea, coffee and cakes.
The market will be held at Bega High School hall between 10am and 3pm.