World Challenge Speech
$8,500 dollars to go to two different third world countries for a life changing experience. The photos of mystical stone temples drew me in to see what this trip was about. Munks, markets, meals surrounding you. An aroma of spice and fresh air. This was only some of the things that were entailed in the world challenge expedition I did in 2015. There was only 1 leader from the organisation itself, 2 teachers and 15 other students going on this amazing trip to learn new skills and help others in need. World Challenge is an organisation that offers opportunities to schools to go on a trip to a third world country, learn to be a leader and help people around you that live in poverty every day. Cambodia and laos are the two countries I went too, they are very similar but completely opposite to NZ. For example Cambodia has a lot of tourists because there was a war over there and now you can visit the fields they fought to survive in. In Cambodia you know a few will speak english if you go to the cities where as in Laos no one knows even a little english and you have to sign language everything. This was quite difficult but you did pick up the few words like hello and thank you. I think everybody should have a go at world challenge if it comes your way or do something to help others in need.
Acclimatisation, this is after you’ve had 2 days flying and you finally make it to the hotel you’re staying at. The acclimatisation is one of the four phases you do during this 1 month trip. It is the stage where you convert your money or go and buy a local phone and sim card. The phone is what you make all your bookings on whether it’s calling for the next hotel or for the transportation on a tuk tuk to the markets. I remember when I had to call and book the hotel for 16 students there were two boys and they had to have their own room and so did each adult while the rest of us (the girls) had to sleep in rooms with four of us all sharing a small space. I had to make sure that we booked enough rooms for everyone and speak to someone who speaks very little english over the phone with bad reception. Then you have to call up and see if you can get someone to take you from wherever you are to the hotel at whatever time of day you need. This phase is all about getting to know your new climate and the culture that surrounds you as you walk down the streets. For me this was so exciting because everything is completely different from food to power lines. The language, the money, it’s all different. It’s a whole new world.
5 hours of walking in 30 degree weather and coming to a stop to see this beautiful river. Feels like you are walking forever through nature itself and then you look to your left and see a mud snake in the bushes and to your right a poisonous tree that if touched you can break out into a rash and get a high fever. Coming to a stop and knowing you can go for a swim and relax for the rest of the afternoon is the best feeling after a long day of trekking through laos’s forests. Hanging up your mosquito free hammock to sleep in later. Watching the moonlight from your hammock that night and the stars shining as bright as they can. This is the moment, the place where you can be still and listen to the crickets chirp as you think to yourself. My thoughts as I lay there silently rocking in the night were “our world is small” and “we are all the same” so “why do we treat each other differently”, “kids shouldn’t rely on us to help them.” We need to help these kids in any way we can because I have seen kids begging at markets on their knees with their legs tucked up in their pants so tourists think their legs have been blown up in the minefields. A few hours later I would see them untuck their legs and walk off down the street to beg for more money. I have seen kids walking down the street in bare feet and torn up clothes for hours to get to school or markets. I believe that having the moment to yourself and thinking about the world is amazing: to hear yourself think and the possibilities are endless. Tonight I challenge you to sit down have some time to yourself and think about what you can do to help whether it’s with the poverty in the world or people less fortunate.
The project phase. What is it? Well this is what we do to help the children in cambodia. I was given the opportunity to help build a wall around the boundaries of their school and teach kids the basic english. We arrived at a school and there was only one teacher for four classrooms. Imagine if we only had a teacher for one hour a day but we still had to stay at school all day and educate ourselves. This is what these kids have to do every day for 6 years and they all aspire to be someone important like doctors or some just want to travel but that is just their dreams because they don’t have enough education to do these things. I walked into my classroom and they all had smiles on their faces. Not one of them could speak a little english and I had no idea how I, just one 13 year old student would teach a class of kids aged 8-10 a whole new language in the space of a week. I did my best, teaching them colours and shapes and everything else I could. Every morning I walked into class it was the best feeling because the children wanted to be taught and they would come up to me and put flower crowns or necklaces on me as I walked into the class. I think the kids wanted to learn because we made it exciting and fun for them using games and then they wouldn’t have to educate themselves for the time we were there. But for the afternoon I would leave them and go build a brick wall in 35 degree heat. This brick wall was the boundary for their school. The boundary was needed because the kids could just leave and there was a massive pond that was very dangerous and could be a hazard if one of the kids kicked a ball in there then they might go for a swim to get it and not know the depth of the pond. After building the wall I was satisfied knowing these kids would be safer and happier in their school. This school was just four classrooms and a small field with NO boundaries. Imagine if our school was that small. What would you do?
Rest and relaxation
The rest and relaxation phase is definitely what made me want to go on this trip. Biking through temples and swimming in clear waters. Walking through markets and having the choice to eat spiders, snakes, snails or scorpions. Who knows what you might want to try? I tried them, and they were all .. strange. My favourite rest and relaxation day was the three days we hung out on Don Det (one of the four thousand islands). Don det was beautiful we went bike riding and it took about ten minutes to get from one side of the island to the other. This was the only place we were aloud to have ice so every morning we had iced coffees or iced chocolates it was the best. The beaches were crystal clear and each morning you could go and watch the sunrise. Another time is when we lifted lanterns up that we bought from the stall that’s built on the beach. This phase is all about having a break enjoying where you are and taking everything in and keeping these days in your memories forever.
All of this really comes down to one thing whether you are willing and capable of giving up your time to help others. I’m not asking you to fly overseas as soon as you can and build homes and shelters for those who are in need. I’m asking you to challenge yourself like world challenge does to take time out of your day, do something nice for someone and take every opportunity that you can.