Georgia Phillips and Jai Kunze have travelled overseas before, but nothing will compare with the trip of a lifetime they are embarking on with fellow Immanuel Lutheran College staff and students.
The Year 10 students have joined peer Emma Brogan and recent graduate Sam Moore, college principal Colin Minke, chaplain Gayla Mathews and teacher Todd Sobey on a journey to Sumatra, where they will work in a secondary school in Parapat, four hours south of the capital of Medan, and interact with disabled students in a newly formed disability rehabilitation centre in Raya.
The journey is an important next step to build on the partnership foundations laid by Mr Minke and Immanuel Lutheran Church pastor Matt Thiele, who visited the HKBP Synod school last year.
“The idea is to form links with a secondary school where our students can share experiences, work with local students and experience life in a culture considerably different from their own,” Mr Minke says.
“The students will run activities and share their own knowledge, all the while forming relationships with local children, their teachers, and the wider community. It’s about developing cultural capital and sowing the seeds for future trips and possible student and/or teacher exchanges.”
The two-week trip is a service-based cultural immersion and Jai says it will give the group a chance to see the real way of life for the people in these towns, which is a far cry from the tourist experience.
“It is going to be very moving to see how people in Sumatra grow up and get by on whatever they’ve got,” Jai says.
Georgia says it will be a great opportunity to give back.
“It’s something young people don’t do enough of. I’m looking forward to learning all about their culture and gaining an understanding of what they have been through. It will really make us thankful for what we have,’’ she says.
The group has stocked up on gifts to give the young people they meet during their travels. They will also spend $2000 on new supplies from Sumatran businesses to boost the local economy and provide the schools with some of the resources they need.
Ms Mathews says it is an ideal opportunity for the students to learn how to put their ideals of helping others into practice.
“We learn how to serve others and this will be a practical way to discover how we do that in real life. What does it mean when we are confronted with things and we are pushed outside of our comfort zones?
“This will be an experience that we will all earn from and the students will come back in Year 11 next year and share that with the rest of the school.”