Throughout Year 12, students hear from many guest speakers from different universities and programs about various opportunities post school. One stand out amongst these talks was the one from the Cardoner Project, a Jesuit organisation set up by Fr Dave Braithwaite that offers young adults the opportunity to be involved in volunteer projects in communities around the world.
The opportunity to travel to Nepal, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia or Mexico following the marathon that is the HSC is something that immediately appealed to many study weary Year 12 students, and was something that many of them, including myself, took up.
In January this year I was fortunate enough to travel to Thailand and Vietnam for three weeks alongside a group of 17 other young adults, including Emily King and Serena McSweeney (also Class of 2016) as part of the Cardoner Project. During the three week trip we worked with local nuns, who run St Vincent Diem orphanage in Central Vietnam that cares for a large number of disabled and orphaned children. Despite the many obstacles faced by the nuns and the children at the orphanage there is no shortage of love and friendship between everyone in the community. We were immediately welcomed into their community and they were extremely grateful for the time that we were able to spend feeding, dancing and playing with the children. A definite highlight of the trip were the impromptu discos after dinner. The language and communication barrier that we faced in much of our verbal communication with the children and the nuns was easily overcome by shared singing to One Direction songs or dancing the Macarena.
Following on from our time in Vietnam, we travelled to the village of Houy Tong in the mountains above Chiang Mai, Thailand. Here we lived with Malliwan, who plays ‘mother’ to the volunteers completing a Service Year teaching English in Thai schools. Whilst we were in Houy Tong we worked with members of the local community and new Service Year volunteers on construction projects within the village. This part of the trip was much more heavy lifting, we collected rocks and buckets of sand to use in making cement from local rivers, it was equally fun as it was a great opportunity to get to know people in the community as well as further bond as a group. Another major highlight of Houy Tong was the dam, which was the perfect place to relax after a day of construction, or head up for an early morning swim.
On top of all the amazing volunteering experiences we had on the immersion, Cardoner has built in opportunities to see local sights, for us this included visiting the highest mountain in Thailand, the Ho Chi Minh Complex and Army museum in Hanoi amongst other sites. I could not recommend Cardoner enough to students in year 11 and
12 thinking about what they’re going to do in the post school break. I have no doubt that the friends I made, communities I became a part of and experiences I had will stay with me. I couldn’t have asked for a better start to post school life, and I know that the many girls from the class of 2016 who travelled on other Cardoner immersions feel the same. (If anyone wants to know more about the immersion feel free to contact me or any of the other girls who travelled and we’d be more than happy to have a chat!)
Year 12, 2016