Annually we welcome around 3,000 students and staff from over fifty schools worldwide.
Ivanhoe Grammar School from Australia and Appleby College from Canada came together again in the beautiful setting of Northern Thailand in March for a joint trip with the Barge Program and the Visiting Schools Program. Appleby and Ivanhoe schools have a link through the Round Square Schools and have been meeting in Thailand with the Visiting Schools Program since 2012.
This trip focuses on the students’ exposure to a culture different from their own. Through observing and experiencing these differences, students are hopefully able to recognise the challenges and understand the values of the local residents, and how different or similar these are to their own lives.
A significant part of their learning is through a Globalisation Survey, which could be considered the main focus of the overall trip. The group visited three different hill tribes that originate from the same indigenous Hmong group. The three villages had been exposed to different levels of tourism and therefore different levels of influence from western civilisation. The students' project was to study what effect tourism has had on the village, both positive and negative, and the possibly interconnected overall changes from increasing modernisation. The students had the unique experience of meeting the headman of each village and asking him questions related to their study. The follow-up was a discussion on the conclusions they drew from the overall study of the three villages.
Students had plenty more opportunities to further immerse themselves in Thai culture. They visited a traditional Thai market and learnt how to use the fresh ingredients to prepare their own meals. Jungle Cooking was also another highlight for the students who cooked over our traditional charcoal stoves whilst surrounded by beautiful nature within the Three-Generation Farm. The group also supported some local charities with visits to Elephant Nature Park and Makhampom Foundation.
The trip rounded-off with a wonderful evening of Khantoke dinner, followed by a traditional Northern Thai dance performance. The following day students of both schools had to say their goodbyes to their new circle of friends. It was difficult, but hopefully this experience provided these young adults an opportunity for life-long learning and friendship and provided them with the experience to take on the future challenges.
Another good year from this unique trip indeed, and the Visiting Schools Program is looking forward to welcoming the next group of Ivanhoe and Appleby in 2016.