The Laos expedition primarily has a humanitarian focus. At GoldenGrove High School, students have the opportunity to put the school's iCAREvalues into practice by volunteering at the Sae Lao Project near Vang Vieng. For two weeks, our students teach English, learn about eco-friendly living, getup close and personal with the Laos culture and complete a focus project. The inaugural 2015 expedition focussed on providing a new ICT suite which is now home to 18 surface devices donated by GGHS. Our students helped to train staff and students on how to use these devices, built an ICT suite to securely store these devices, built and decorated new tables and chairs as well ascarrying out daily tasks that support the smooth running of the Sae Lao Project.
There is also the opportunity to fundraise for a purpose. In 2015, our fundraising meant that we were able to provide $2000 of additional resources to support the education program at Sae Lao. This money allowed us to secure new seating mats, cushions, tables and chairs, paint, sporting equipment and most importantly provide the Community Centre with over 200 new books to complement the ongoing work of the Volunteers.
Some time is dedicated to exploring S.E. Asia, with visits to historic places such as the Cu Chi Tunnels, Mekong Delta and Vientiane. The expedition has a side focus of challenging the resilience of students through an outdoor pursuits activity. In 2015, students spent two days in the jungle of the Bolaven Plateau, zip-lining through a special part of Laos. This experience was completed with a stay in a real "Tree House". We visit traditional markets prior to learning to cook Lao style cuisine through a 1 day cooking course located in Vientiane. There is time for some rest and relaxation. Shopping and tubing were the main activities undertaken Students who sign up for this expedition can expect to have full emersion in the Laos culture, including the food, working together to undertake daily chores whilst appreciating the very scenic backdrop provided by the Sae Lao Project. Our students return to Australia knowing more about themselves, and becoming more thankful for what they have in their own lives. This experience is very much about giving rather than taking, in the sense that the nature of volunteering embellishes the iCARE values - identity, Care, Achievement, Respect and Excellence in our spare time.