Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Students benefit from Cambodia experience

Immersion trip sees students take part in rural school and orphanage projects in Cambodia.

RUTH CLAYTON November 15, 2012 4:37am

Recently returning from a Cambodia immersion trip were (from left) Damaar Hearn, Sadie Kalaitzis, Dianne Holland, Sallyanne Dobson and Rob Foran. Absent: Cy Johns, Kasey Bell and Maddison Barber.

Five Campaspe College of Adult Education VCAL students recently returned from a Cambodia immersion trip.

Partnering Rotary clubs of Echuca-Moama, Melbourne South and Campaspe Shire, the students spent 13 days making a difference in the lives of Cambodians at Siem Reap, Battambang and Phnom Penh.

The students left on October 25 and returned on November 6.

While in Cambodia, the students took part in rural school and orphanage projects.

They also dedicated some time to take in Cambodia’s cultural and tourist attractions, such as the Angkor Wat temples, zoos and a bamboo train.

Teacher Rob Foran said compassion and empathy were the key themes of the tour, with students working alongside people living in destitute poverty, with limited access to education and health care and poor infrastructure, to help where they could.

‘‘They distributed donations and spent time building, teaching and best of all playing with Cambodian children, rather than a selfish, alcohol-fuelled schoolies experience,’’ he said.

Mr Foran said Cambodia’s sinister history was explored through visits to the genocide museum and killing fields, with many students shocked at the absolute lack of humanity shown by the Khmer Rouge to its own people.

‘‘They dealt with the confronting imagery in a respectful manner and looked out for one another,’’ Mr Foran said.

Student Cy Johns said the trip was the best experience of his life.

‘‘I will definitely be coming back in the future,’’ he said.

Student Sadie Kalaitzis said she was grateful to go on the trip.

‘‘Thank you to all of the staff and partners for having enough faith in us to share this experience,’’ she said.

‘‘It’s changed the way I see the world.’’

Ruth Clayton

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