Antipodeans 2016

After a year of planning and fundraising, thirty three Year 11s and four teachers left for China and Vietnam. The program is run through Antipodeans, who:

"take groups on a three or four week journey to a developing country where students learn to think on their feet, work together and gain real-world resilience. Through the program, students are empowered to work as a team as they make all travel decisions including where they get their next meal and which accommodation they will sleep in that night. The program includes a meaningful and sustainable community service project; a trek through inspiring terrain; and sightseeing – all while engaging with locals and their cultural traditions"

This year, there were two groups. One started in Hanoi, Vietnam and made their way overland to southern China. The other group did the inverse, starting in Kunming, China and ending in Hanoi. Both group spent four days trekking through the majestic Tiger Leaping Gorge in China. The mountain scenery was incredible and the guest house accommodation capitalised on these views. The trek itself was quite challenging as the group walked around 10 kilometres a day, at points climbing to altitudes over 2,700 metres above sea level.

The two groups visited Lijang, Shang Ri La and Kunming in China, eating delicious meals and learning about Chinese culture.

For the community service project, the two teams spent time in Vietnam working with small villages. Team 1 spent their four days outside of Hanoi, building the foundations for a family's home. Team 2 were in a village of the Red Dao people, an hour from Sapa in the rice terrace hills. There, they worked in a small school, building fences, garden beds and a concreted area so the kids didn't have to stand in the mud in the rainy season. Both communities were incredible grateful for the work of the McKinnon groups. Team 1 was even treated to a feast of one of the village pigs which was a huge compliment from an impoverished village. The project was also a change to connect with the local community and learn about their culture. Team 2 was treated to a musical performance, an embroidery lesson and a demonstration of how to make paper out of bamboo.

For all the students and teachers involved, it was an incredible experience.. Spending a night on a boat in Halong Bay was a highlight for many. The two teams saw, experienced and learnt so much and will hold on tightly to the stories and memories.

Mr Machin, Ms Dickson, Ms Kirk and Mr Reynolds

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