A group of eight students believe they have become different people after a life-changing trip to Cambodia and Vietnam.
“We made memories for life, it changed my personality and everything,” Bega High School’s Christabella Herbert-Smith said.
“[Being in Cambodia and Vietnam] was the happiest I have felt in a long time, being over there you just want to enjoy the little things, because that’s what you’re here for.”
Along with other Year 10 students she has recently returned home after spending a couple of weeks travelling through South East Asia on a school excursion where they used $20,000 they had raised before departing to volunteer with or support several non-government organisations.
One of the most memorable moments of the trip for the group was the visit to the Killing Fields, which are sites in Cambodia where over a million people were killed and buried by the Khmer Rouge.
“It showed what that country went through, and it was amazing to see how they could keep smiling,” Christabella said.
The group agreed the people of Cambodia were incredibly friendly.
“They called them ‘Hello People’, because they always said hello to everyone,” Brydie Condran said.
“You can’t go down the main street of Bega waving and smiling at people.
“They have a good mindset on life, it’s really great.”
“They haven’t got a lot of materials or anything, but they have a lot of connection to their family and culture,” her friend Stephanie Burke added.
“They appreciated everything, the smiles they had on their faces just melted your heart,” Christabella said.
One of the major shocks for the students was the amount of visible waste and pollution in the countries.
Also, while women were often seen going to work, doing the shopping or caring for children, men appeared to live more relaxing lives, hanging at coffee shops, which showed the gender divide in the countries.
“It shows it’s still a relevant issue today, especially over there,” Brydie said.
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One of the travellers Mia Boyce, who had wanted to go on the overseas trip since she was in Year 5, said by travelling to the countries the teenagers also discovered more about themselves.
“We take a lot for granted, more than I feel we should,” she said.
“Australia is not very happy, but we do have a lot more to be happy for,” Brydie added.
“It definitely changed us all in some ways.”
All were excited to travel again in the future.