This expedition has been designed to help the children learn more about Vietnamese Culture and wildlife (many animals are becoming extinct), whilst living outside their comfort zone in tents and with basic amenities.
The children embraced the challenge and everyone participated fully in all of the activities. We arrived just before lunch on Monday and, after a delicious meal, we began to set up camp. The children sorted out their tents and then built benches to use throughout the week. That afternoon, we went on a walk through the village and learnt how the local people weave using traditional methods. Unfortunately, on the second week our walk was cut short by rain – however, we were all pleased as it cooled down and made the night ahead much more pleasant in the tents. That evening we had a quiz and then headed off to bed.
Over the next 3 days, all groups participated in a variety of activities. The children visited EAST to learn about gibbons and their release program. We also learnt about tracking animals and using observations to ensure animals are on track to be released. We cycled from the National Park to Ta Lai (where we were staying at the longhouse), a challenge for some but everybody had a go. We went to learn about Organic farming and to play in a lovely river and many participated in kayaking. The Low Rope Course was a highlight for many of the children and the jungle walk demonstrated how peaceful and tranquil the jungle can be. So many fabulous activities.
We joined the local villages for an afternoon of traditional dancing and drinking delicious sugar cane juice on the Thursday. This was an opportunity to see the local school and meet the local children. It was quite sobering to many to see how little they had in comparison to the things BIS students have at our school and home.
On the final morning, we were awoken early – ready to participate in the final race. This involved completing challenges as the teams ran around the lake. We had riddles to solve, poems to write and photographs to take before heading to the buffalo field and the finish line. A great way to end the week. The group from week 2 then had to take down the tents and pack these away – not as easy as it sounds, before lunch and then heading back to HCMC.
In addition, we had different activities every evening, such as a movie night, stargazing and roasting marshmallows on the campfire, and all children had chores throughout the week – including cooking class, washing up and setting the table for dinner.
Although it was a challenging 5 days for many of the children, their perseverance and sheer determination was evident throughout – as were their smiles. The teaching staff who accompanied them thoroughly enjoyed getting to know all the children and seeing their confidence grow as the week progressed. It was an amazing experience that I am sure the children will remember for a long time.
Ms Deborah Spencer, Year 6 Leader