Burnie High School

Cambodian eye-opener

(Back to front and left to right) Jack Cooper, Tobi Mason, Julius Greene, Ben White, Jess Beaumont, Gerry Davies, George Cooper, Min, Bora Cooper, Tori Crisp, Natalie Febey, Bailee Gillard, Carly Grey, Annika Duncan, Kheung, Jasmine Hodgetts, Brianna Clarke, Eliza Paul, Emma Duncan at the religious temple Angkor Wat in Siem Reap, Cambodia.

Twelve Burnie High School students went on a humbling trip to Cambodia and experienced how children live and learn in one of the world's poorest countries.

The students and their teachers volunteered at Soksan International School in the regional village of Soksan, to gain an understanding of what it's like to be less fortunate.

"It was to enhance the students' cultural understanding, to see how significant education is around the world and how some people are doing the most they can with very little," Burnie High School co-ordinating teacher Jessica Beaumont said.

"It was about opening the kids' eyes to the real world."

After the 16-day trip, the students returned home with a greater understanding of the world around them.

"We have all come back with more appreciation for what we have," Burnie High School grade 9 student Jasmine Hodgetts said.

"My leadership skills and my confidence and understanding of others' cultures have all improved," Tori Crisp, also grade 9, said.

Most students worked in the classrooms, assisting teachers and working with students to improve their knowledge.

The students raised funds for several months and Miss Beaumont said all the organising was well worth it for the experience that all received.

"Working with the Cambodian Kids Foundation at the Soksan International School was an enriching experience, not only for students but for the teachers as well," she said.

"We are so thankful to everyone who helped us get there."

It was the first time Burnie High School had sent students to Cambodia and the experience was something that everyone should do, Miss Beaumont said.

"I didn't see one of them unhappy the entire time - they didn't want to leave," she said.

"A lot of the students are thinking about doing more volunteer work now.  They've also brought back their knowledge here and are sharing with the school what life is like [in Cambodia] and what can be done to help them."

The students had made "lasting friendships" with their Cambodian counterparts, Miss Beaumont said.

Story by Emily Woods, The Advocate