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Leaving a Legacy: Laos Expedition

News

1 February 2018

Leaving a Legacy: Laos Expedition

Leaving a Legacy: Laos Expedition

Early on in our year 12 career, the class of 2017 decided that an international service trip was a legacy we wanted to leave behind.

 Subsequently, ten Scotch leavers, along with Pepita March and Shannon Davey embarked on an 18-day trip to Laos in collaboration with the Australian company Rustic Pathways.

What we experienced was a plethora of sensory engagement. We stayed in treehouses originating from jungle dwelling families wanting to downsize their homes, watched a pig get slaughtered and butchered for us to eat, conversely also learned a lot about animal ethics while walking with elephants at a conservation park and free the bears sanctuary. We got told our fortunes, ranging from business prosperity to vast sickness. We made offerings to monks to try and remedy any bad luck, improved our spine alignment by sleeping on the floor under mosquito nets and swam in the sparkling blue waters of Kuang Si Waterfall. We learned about the most bombed country in the world- during the secret war approximately 260 million bombs were dropped on Laos and some many undetonated throughout the country today.

By far the most important aspect of the trip was the locals we interacted with and the work we completed. We experienced two village homestays to assist with construction work that involved mixing vast amounts of cement, laying bricks and digging trenches. The local children were incredible, both in nature and the way they conducted themselves. Not only were they immensely fun but also incredibly hard-working. They loved to help us with the labour and tiny children struggling to carry a single brick was a common occurrence. They had amazing laughs, were curious and loved to exchange language and games with us. There was no snot nosed crying over losing a game or jealousy over possession, they would laugh and cheer each other on.

This involvement was very important to us- helping us to justify why we were there instead of paying professionals to do a better and more efficient job. Not only was it about English enhancement for the kids, but about showing the community that we cared by doing the hard yards alongside the locals instead of simply throwing money at them from a distance.

At Scotch College, we have the luxury of debating over the shape, wood and paint of the new picket fence around our oval, while communities such as the village of Nong Khiaw require assistance to build a simple brick and wire fence around the boundary of their school so that the children have clean grounds to play in and can remain safe during their time at school. This perspective was immensely important to each of us.

Due to the education and pleasure we experienced from the trip, we sincerely hope that the class of 2018 continues what we have started. The lessons that can be gained and the interactions with people are invaluable.

Eliza Ross-Smith (’17)