SOMETIMES some of life’s most important lessons are learnt outside of the classroom.
Each year, a group of Year 11 students from Southern Highlands Christian School (SHCS) travels to Vanuatu on a mission trip as part of the school’s value of service to others. And each year, a new group of students returns inspired by the generosity and selflessness of the Ni-Vanuatu. From September 21 to October 1, 19 students from the Bowral school visited four churches, 10 schools and several villages. For seven of the students, it was their first trip outside of Australia.
SHCS student Isaac Mauger said he had noticed incredible differences between the two countries. “The biggest thing I brought back is how good we have it in Australia,” he said.
Classmate Shayla Carl said the experience had brought their small year group even closer together. “For me it was how we all came together as a year group and leaned on each other during the experience, and the bonding we had with the people over there,” she said. “They were happy for us to be there and they weren't expecting anything from us.”
School chaplain Jade Barr said the student group raised funds and collected items to take on their trip and donate to the Ni-Vanuatu. “We took sporting equipment and school supplies donated by the SHCS community,” she said. But many of the students said despite giving gifts, time and love while they were in Vanuatu, they each felt they’d received so much more from the people and the experience.
Zac Baker said the sense of giving among the Ni-Vanuatu was amazing. “Their happiness, joy and generosity toward us was amazing. That spoke to me quite strongly,” he said.
Ryan Anderson agreed. “They would thank God for everything they had, and they didn’t have much. They’d thank God for the smallest of things – they didn't have money to distract them,” he said.
Students shared the gospel with more than 1900 people, enjoyed driving on the ash plains alongside a volcano and performed songs and dramas with native people. The students were accompanied by five teachers – school chaplain Jade Barr, art and language teacher Emma Llewelyn, head of high school Peter Lee, PE teacher Joel Williams and food tech teacher Janine Sloane.