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On December 1st 2016, twelve Henley High School students and 2 teachers headed off to Vietnam for a 3 week trip of a lifetime. The actual trip started by flying into Northern Vietnam (Hanoi) and ended by flying out of Southern Vietnam (Ho Chi Minh City), but the real exciting part of the trip was what happened in the middle! In fact, everything that we did, where we went, where we stayed and how we got there was decided by the students.

This unique student leadership experience, through ‘Antipodeans Abroad’, actually started 12 months before we even stepped foot on out first aeroplane. Over this time students discussed and decided on a range of important goals we wanted to achieve, to make the most out of this once in a life time opportunity. One of these goals was to raise money throughout the year to be distributed to worthwhile causes and organisation over in Vietnam. Students saw first-hand the impact these donations had on these communities, this could not have been achieved without the help and support of the entire school community in contributing donations to quiz nights, buying raffle tickets and even eating those hot dogs and chips during lunchtimes.

So, in brief, this is what we did…
After one night in Hanoi we headed to a rural village near Mai Chau, where we would call home for a week to build a ‘kitchen’ for an old couple who were in dire need (in fact they had been waiting 2 years). As a team we mixed mortar, laid bricks, rendered and completed the build well ahead of schedule. It wasn’t all work in the village, we did get invited to a local wedding and sang some karaoke for the bride and groom, not too sure if they love the ‘One Direction’ song choice though?

The following day, we walked an hour to a local school and we donated, using our fundraising money, a range of resources they were in need of. This included, two sets of PE uniforms, soccer balls, 20 school chairs, a laser printer and a ‘tug-of-war’ rope. We spent the remainder of the afternoon teaching the local children and range of English based lessons and then they destroyed us in a game of soccer (unfair home court advantage when they play in bare feet).

We then proceeded to one of the highlights of our trip, an overnight cruise in Ha Long Bay in our very own boat. It was a tough couple of days eating gourmet meals, swimming in the bay and even squid fishing at night.

The first of two overnight train trips followed as we transited from North to South, enjoying the sights, culture and cooking schools of Hoi An and Da Nang along the way, at least the parts of Hoi An that weren’t flooded.

Our last destination and departure point was Hoi Chi Minh City. While there we visited the ‘Chu Chi Tunnels’, the ‘Mekong Delta’ and of course the local markets for the final bits of shopping.

The last day in Vietnam was pretty special, we firstly woke up early to join the locals with their daily 6am workout in the park. We then visited a local (and global) children’s foundation, the ‘Christina Noble Foundation’. Here we played with the local children and saw first-hand what the foundation had done for families and children affected by the impact of the ‘American/Vietnam War’. Without hesitation the team decided that we would donate the remainder of our fundraising money, even individual student’s donated the rest of their personal fund as well…it was a very special moment that we all will never forget!

We returned to Adelaide on the 22nd December, welcomed by families and friends…eager to hear about all our adventures.

We will be starting to promote the next ‘Antipodeans trip’ later this semester, which will take place in December 2018…so if you would like to create your own adventure and be part of a trip of a lifetime please come to our information sessions when advertised.
Lastly, I would just like to say, it was an absolute pleasure and privilege to share these experience with these student (or young adults), I valued every moment and learnt as much from them as hopefully they learnt from me. Thank you.

Shannon Lim | Lead Teacher

News Category: Middle School, Senior School, Whole School, Year 8, Year 9, Year 10, Year 11, Year 12, Student Achievements