While most students spent their recent school holidays relaxing, six Prince of Peace Lutheran College Year 11 students enjoyed a very different experience in Southeast Asia.

Jasmine McLeod, Jonathan Southward, Jak Speirs, Nicholas Telfer, Laura Wilton, and Hannah Yarnold joined with students from three other Lutheran schools as part of an Australian Lutheran World Service (ALWS) trip to Cambodia.

During the seventeen-day trip, the students observed and supported the work of the ALWS, the overseas aid and resettlement agency of the Lutheran Church of Australia.

The group visited Phnom Penh, then travelled north west of the capital to Kampong Chhnang province, where students spent five days in the field before returning to Phnom Penh. Students spent a further period in the field in the Aoral district, then visited the city of Siem Reap before returning home.

Whilst in the field, students visited villages with staff from Life With Dignity, a partner of the ALWS, helping out with projects and learning about the Cambodian people, their culture and beliefs, and the nation’s human development issues. Life With Dignity is a Cambodian NGO that provides development services for the rural poor in Cambodia.

Prince of Peace’s Head of College, Mr Philip Hulland, said that prior to the tour students underwent two days of training to help them prepare for the experience.

“During the training, the students learned as much as they could about Cambodia, to prepare them for the culture shock inevitable when you travel to a place where things are very different to life in Australia,” said Mr Hulland.

“The students also put together some care packages, including sporting equipment, for the Cambodian students we visited, which were very well received in a country that has widespread poverty and where many schools are lacking what we would consider basic equipment.

“The students’ most striking experience was the Cambodian people’s sense of joy and generosity, and it was a wonderful experience for them to listen, learn and develop an appreciation of another culture and customs, as well as work as part of a team for a common cause,” Mr Hulland said.

“The students are to be congratulated for their willingness to step out of their comfort zones and spend their holidays learning about service.”

While in Cambodia, students also took the opportunity to visit a number of local historical and cultural sites including the infamous S-21 prison, the Cheung Ek Killing Fields, and the temples at Angkor Wat.