It’s often impossible to realize how big and multifaceted the world really is without getting out there to see some of it for oneself. Group volunteer experiences like the one students from Scarisbrick Hall High School participated in are one of the most eye-opening ways to discover a different world.
Through cultural immersion, impactful and empowering participation, and active reflection, the students of this high school group not only contributed to a global mission, but learnt about themselves too.
Their service learning experience brought with it many lessons, not least of which was thinking about where they fit into the world, and the part they have to play. Experiential education is a powerful way to nurture teen volunteers into conscious, responsible global citizens. Hear it from the students themselves, as well as from their teacher, in their written testimonials below.
AN EYE-OPENING VOLUNTEER EXPERIENCE
“I have ventured to a different world, carrying back with me a wealth of humbling experiences, new skills and defining memories, being taken out of my comfort zone and into the an unexplored world and culture. The challenge of talking to the Lao people that barely speak English and playing with the children that speak even less, has further expanded my skills and view of the world. One of the incredible experiences to pierce my heart, is the effort put in by Lao people to reach a better future. Yet I also return with many other marvelous memories of the Lao people that highlight the lazy attitudes often found in the west. Their determination and motivation has lit in me a fire to succeed, work hard, to know and do more.”
– Evie, student
“This trip has been a once in a lifetime opportunity to experience a completely and utterly different culture and way of life. It has opened my eyes to how privileged western civilizations truly are and how things that are given by parents or by government such as education, are taken for granted. This experience has not only changed my perspective on life but many people around me too. It is made me realize that life and many of the things in it should not be taken for granted and we should learn to appreciate even the little things in life such as having clean tap water available at any moment.”
– Valente, student
CONTRIBUTING TO LOCAL EMPOWERMENT
“My trip to Laos was the most eye opening, enjoyable and unique experience. The trip had bespoke outcomes for every single one of us. For me it opened my eyes, realizing how much I have and should be grateful for. The children of Luang Prabang leave their families and villages in the countryside and move to the city at ages as young as 13 to have a chance of an education, something that I take for granted every single day. Their determination and motivation to learn and earn a living to support themselves, their future families and other relatives is truly inspiring and something I will take away from my trip. I have learnt to be appreciative for my access to education, the things I have and as a woman be able to do what I want to do, without the pressure to be married and have children at such a young age, which unfortunately is not the case for many girls in Laos. I hope teaching English to the people will truly benefit them in the future, so the trip will be not only a once in a life time experience but also rewarding.”
– Shea, student
“With ambitions as big as their smiles the Laos people have made an ever-lasting impact on me. Their hard work and dedication to learn makes me want to work harder in my studies. I have also learnt not to take everything for granted and to be thankful for everything I have. The fact that they have so little yet never give up inspires me to achieve what I want in life. We were given the opportunity to visit a temple and watch the monks chanting and took part in their meditation which will be a once in a lifetime opportunity that I will never forget. This has been an unforgettable experience and I would love to come back.”
– Sara, student
UNDERSTANDING PRIVILEGE AND GRATITUDE
“This trip was very eye opening, showing me how very fortunate I am, how I take the things that I assume are ‘little’ but are actually a huge privilege, such as going to school five days a week and getting served food daily. I have realized how hard people work around the world for simple items that we all have handed to us without question, sometimes after just a quick phone call. I loved how happy all the students were with the help we gave, even though it was only for a few days and how they won’t forget what we have done with them. It has taught me to work harder for the things I want in life, to get there quicker and to be happy with my achievements. I have also learnt to appreciate what I have and the opportunities I have available to me, I will not forget this experience. Thank you for this opportunity.”
– Kiera, student
“The Laos trip has really affected me it has shown me how hard some people have to work just to survive, it has given me a new work ethic and drive to do as well as I can and to try not to take all the things I have been given as a birth right of being from England for granted. The activities we did really showed us how hard people have to work visiting the rice farm and taking part in ploughing a rice field showed us firsthand how intense some people’s daily lives are and how lucky we all that we don’t have to work 19 hours to have the basics we get at home for nothing. The Laos trip has taught me many things and has showed how vital helping people in the world that are less fortunate than me, has inspired me to investigate volunteering at some point in the future where it’s needed.”
– James, student
GAINING A NEW PERSPECTIVE
“Laos has been an enlightening experience for me, mainly because the people strive to learn English, a foreign and difficult language, just to give them greater opportunities. They have a great work ethic and desire to learn, sometimes having to work 19 hours a day just to support their families and improve their future. This trip has really inspired me to work hard next year to make sure I get the results I need and make the most of the great opportunities I have, while many have so little.”
– Tom, student
“I think Laos has been a very eye-opening experience for me and everyone else. It has shown me a side of the world that I previously did not know existed and has had a deep impact on my perspective of the world, especially how keen the Lao children were to learn English to improve their lives. This has encouraged me to also improve how hard I work as I have seen how hard others have to work to achieve the same.”
– Harry, student
DETERMINATION WINS THE RACE
“This trip to Laos, as my first time abroad from the UK, has taught me so much about the rest of the world and how lucky we truly are. It has changed my perspective on the production of everyday products and how much hard work goes into each little thing. It has also taught me to make the most of each small moment, and to work harder in college. Not to mention, it has also encouraged me to try more new things and give everything my all, which is a very a valuable life lesson.”
– Reece, student
“Well, it’s my last day in Laos and what an amazing and humbling experience this has been. In a country where the people are so happy, friendly and generous when they are subject to such poverty (average salary of just $1,200) it has really tugged on my heart strings on many occasions. I’ve done so many things in 10 days I’ve never done before and I will always remember my time here and will definitely return again.
Aside from the ‘fun’ things we did on this trip, the standout thing for me was seeing how traditional family life is still so strong in Laos. Families appear to really stick together and make ends meet through hard work and determination. Talking to Mr Lee on seven brothers farm of his relentless hard work to better himself and his family. From such a young age working 19 hour days to get to where he wanted opened my eyes to how easy we have life in many ways in the western world.
It has made me realize that money and material belongings make us less happy in our constant wanting for more, family and friends are what matter most in life!”
– Mr Ingram, teacher