The big OE is a right of passage for many young Kiwis, but one group of students is taking their first steps now, as they prepare themselves to travel to India for four weeks of community service and adventure.
The group of intrepid Diocesan students is heading to North India and will be tackling the Rantham Pass, a physically challenging five-day hike, before spending time in a local village and working with Development Action Awareness Nationwide to help repair the local community centre. The dedicated youth education centre is an important contributor to improving youth employment opportunities and breaking the cycle of poor education and poverty.
With a year of saving and fundraising under their belts – students are encouraged to fund as much of the $8,000 cost as possible themselves as well as raise money for their service project – the group is looking forward to finally arriving in their destination and starting their trip.
Seventeen-year old Aimee Fairbairn, sees the expedition as a way to build her confidence and push herself outside her comfort zone. Asked what she is most looking forward to and she says it’s the service phase of the expedition and being able to make a genuine contribution to a local community. In particular, the team will be helping with the construction of separate boys’ and girls’ toilets. It has been proven that female attendance in schools in particular, is strongly linked to having a female specific toilet on site.
“As New Zealanders, we are incredibly blessed to have access to great education. However, not everyone is so lucky. It is eye-opening that something as simple as a girls-only toilet can make such a big difference. I’m looking forward to being able to play a small part in helping girls go to school, and get an education which can lead to better opportunities for them in the future.”
The group is travelling with World Challenge which has been enabling travel for more than 8,000 secondary school students every year to more than 40 different destinations, for over 30 years. The expeditions encourage students to achieve more than they thought possible…and teaches valuable skills from budgeting and saving through to community engagement and teamwork.
Diocesan supports World Challenge as it believes it provides an incredible opportunity to introduce young people to world travel and teach them about third world problems. This will be the fourth World Challenge expedition for School Leader, Sarah Jackson, who says the highlight for her is watching as the students develop empathy, resilience, independence and so many more skills.
“Seeing them come together and refocus on people rather than the normal distractions of everyday life is a real privilege”, says Sarah. “Many of the students come home ready to ‘stand up and be counted’ and more committed to contributing to their communities back in New Zealand.
“At Diocesan, girls are challenged to understand that leadership is not a position but an attitude and way of being. Everyone gets called upon to lead at some stage in their life and we want every student to have the mindset and skills to be an effective leader – throughout her school years and beyond.”