SALSA - Grade 11 and 12
Grade 12 CAS Trip
By Sam and Sophie
"For this year’s study trip, the 12th graders spent the week in the Pakse area, where three days were spent working in the village of Ban Gwangsinoi. This village has no electricity, no running water, no cell phone signal, and before we arrived, had no toilet of any kind. For those three days we lived with the villagers, just as they do, and worked to develop parts of the village. We built a latrine, an information board, and painted their school, along with students from the Lao Ngam District Secondary School.
The villagers were kind enough to host us in their own homes, even though the original plan was for us to sleep at the school. Each of us had turns helping to cook meals, and then wash the dishes at the river, in which we also bathed in. We were separated into groups, which were each responsible for working in the three different tasks we were to complete. The information board and latrine were located near the center of the village, while the school was about a ten minute walk away.
We not only saw the conditions the villagers lived in, but also experienced these conditions with them for three days, so were able to fully realize their hardships, and therefore it is safe to say that we all worked our hardest to help them. They were wonderfully thankful and generous hosts, and at the end of our three day stay, a baci was held. This was a great way for the VIS-ians, the students from the Lao school, and the villagers to all come together to celebrate what had been achieved.
On the last day of our trip, we were invited to visit the Lao Ngam District Secondary School. They showed their appreciation for us working with them in the village and for visiting their school, and we in turn invited them to visit ours in the future. They took us on a tour of their school and we played a game of volleyball with them.
When we arrived back at VIS early in the morning on Saturday, we were all thoroughly exhausted, but satisfied in knowing that this was because we had done meaningful work for those not as fortunate as we are. And of course, we got tons of CAS hours from this trip."
Grade 11 CAS Trip
"This past week the grades 11 and 12 went on a class trip to Pakse in the south of Laos. The aim of this trip was to help develop sanitary conditions in a village in Salavan Province. Village Focus International is the NGO that helped organize this study trip.
Although it was a difficult start to the first day due to the fact that the students had to be at the airport at 4:45 in the morning many of the students did enjoy the time they spent at the airport with their friends. Once we boarded the flight it would be one hour until we landed in Pakse. The flight was not the most comfortable one due to crammed seating and an air-conditioning system that was not very cooling, however that did not bother us much.
When we arrived in Pakse we divided up into two groups, one group went to visit the trafficking shelter. There the students talked to the people running the shelter and were given a tour of the house, where the girls that were saved from or have returned from being trafficked were trained so that they could rejoin society and could easily get jobs. Then that group rejoined the others and had breakfast before setting out for the Tad Lo Resort.
Once we arrived at the resort we were paired up in twos and threes and went to our rooms. Students could relax in their rooms or go swim in the nearby river for an hour before the local Lao students arrived. When we were all together we played some Ice Breaker games with the Lao students, one of which was the Circle Game, this was a game that became extremely popular amongst the students.
That evening the students were allowed to relax and do whatever they wanted before dinner. One of the aspects that has to be mentioned about this trip is the food of the Tad Lo Resort. We were given a choice of three things for dinner and it did not matter what you ordered, the food was literally loved by all the students.
The next day the two classes split up and headed for their own villages. When we arrived at ours there was the whole village waiting for us in front of the school. They welcomed us and our hosts led us to our houses. We started working on the construction of the latrine and notice board as well as the painting of the school right away. The plan was that the students would be divided up into groups and that they would change jobs twice a day so that everybody would get to do all the things.
After we worked during the day we all gathered at the school for dinner which was prepared by the local students, our students and VFI staff. After that due to the cold weather we made a camp fire and sang songs and played music.
Overall this was a very educational trip. This is because it not only taught us about sanitation but it also taught us how to work with people who come from a different background and how the world is truly different in the sense that there are people who live life in a very different way from us."