(Finding a group, a location, and a focus)
Finding a group was not difficult because in my friend group, we are all very similar and we’ve always talked about what we want to do in the project week. We have all always wanted a very environmental approach and wanted to spend time outdoors going hiking and cycling. We all wanted to do service around nature and animals, and outdoor activity. We had always planned to go to Borneo as we all loved sun bears and most of us were in the sun bear outreach GC throughout middle school. We aimed to go to Borneo, spend time working with the animals and the rest of the time doing hikes and camping. Unfortunately, however, last minute all our plans were canceled and not approved given the service providers we had found it too challenging and were getting frustrated, also we had problems as one of our group members required a fridge everywhere for her daily injections – which was a problem for the camping nights. Therefore, we ended up going to Bangkok to do creative and adventure as our service choice to work with animals at PAWS shelter was not accepted by our school. However, we all stayed very positive and despite the bad situation we split up the work between all of us and finished the planning.
My goals for project week was to learn how to be more independent making my way around a new country and looking after myself and my group. Another important aspect to me was spending time with my friends and learning how to be collaborative, as everything we would do from making our way to an activity to even brushing our teeth in the morning would not be done alone – therefore, learning how to accommodate others and work as a team was necessary. Furthermore, this accommodation would apply to be understanding and aware of all our members, as we could not be selfish and we had to keep everyone’s interests in mind. For example, if someone felt unsafe in an area it meant leaving as a group.
LO 1 AWARENESS (Increased awareness of strengths and areas for growth)
Luckily in our school, I have had quite some experience on school trips meaning budgeting and being organised with what is happening. However, I have never been responsible to planning these trips myself, and we always have an adult to guide us. Therefore, this was a challenge but also an area I was looking to grow it – as I typically love to not plan and go into a country such as on holiday with the freedom to do what I want day to day – therefore, learning how to plan would be important. I have strengths in planning and organization, however, such as making itineraries for myself in school to keep up to date and meet due dates – therefore, keeping organised to planning was easy. Working in the investigation stage was important as it made me understand my strengths such as organisation in getting everything together, and areas to grow such as more flexibility as I feel I am always open to discussion and open to change, but I can be quite stubborn. Therefore, I need to work on that and understand not everyone always enjoys the same activities. I think this is because I love adventure and Mimi and I wanted to hike this tall mountain, but not everyone thought they were capable of doing that – so Mimi and I had to change the plan even though initially we were very upset about it.
LO 5 COLLABORATION (Working together to achieve an outcome)
I collaborated with my group of friends and in this stage of the trip is was great because we were all very open to changes in the group and destination. For example, there are 5 of us in my close friend group, but a friend in another group ended up not having anyone to go with. Even though only two people in our friend group were close to her, the rest of us tried to be friendly and ensured she was welcomed into the group even though there was some debate on it considering some people felt it would be awkward having such a close group (being friends for 5 years) and then introducing a sixth person who was a stranger to a few of the people. This would also be hard as that person did not sit with us at school so when we all discussed constantly and had been planning our PW for the last year – we now had to introduce all these news ideas and put in effort to communicate with her and we did not see her often. I feel this was challenging and even frustrating at times, but it was so important because we learnt how to be more supportive and open and flexible to others. And overall in the end, going through this extra step to be collaborative even when it was not always that easy was great because now we are all really close to her and I’m so glad she was on our trip. I feel learning this was also important, because it always is your first thought to want to work with friends and people you know you get along well with – but it shows that all coming together worked out in the end and it was a great time.
(The planning; research, itinerary, medical, etc)
As mentioned, it was quite challenging considering all our efforts planning for Borneo wee canceled very close to the trip – leaving us less than a month to find a new destination and plan everything. However, our group worked hard and we split up all the work and had many project week meetings throughout the week to clarify different aspects. For example, we all took initiative to email and reach out to providers, and finish the document to plan – and when someone needed help, we would all be there to fill in.
Here was our planning document!
The most difficult part of our planning was definitely reaching out to our provider of Buffalo Tours, considering they were very difficult to contact and took weeks at a time to reply. In the end, we had to spend time tracking down their number and calling them multiple times in attempts to get them to reply to our emails. Furthermore, they had a lot of difficulties understanding our emails, and we were hundreds of dollars over budget. This meant we had to be logical and cut out areas of the itinerary to make it below our budget and talk with all our teammates to ensure we would keep the activities we wanted to do. We also had to ensure we would still meet all requirements by talking to Aggy and finding activities outside of Buffalo Tours. Finally, alongside all of this, we had to count up and ensure we had the money necessary for meals and transport, meaning we had to be very organized in planning our expenditure and budgets for each area of the trip.
LO 5 COLLABORATION (Working together to achieve an outcome)
I collaborated with the other 5 people in my group, and being a big group often made that difficult because communication and agreement were hard. We had to set up meetings where we were all free and had to come to common agreements for each situation. On the bright side, however, we are all close friends so we found it easy to discuss with one another because we understood one another well and were happy to be flexible to each other’s needs and aware of their thoughts. For example, planning activities we already knew what to do because we know which of our friends hate hiking and which of our friends has Asthma and other issues – therefore, planning was quick because we knew each other so well. Also, we sit together every day at lunch, in the morning, etc. so whenever problems arose or something needed to be worked on – we could bring it up whenever. This collaboration was important to ensure everyone was happy on project week because we all love each other and want each other to be comfortable and enjoy themselves. Also, to get all the planning and work done on time required collaboration between all members necessary to meet the due dates.
LO3 INITIATIVE (Planning and initiated activities)
I took initiative in researching for providers and activities, as we all did. Myself and a few others also spent the time trying to call buffalo tours and contact them directly. Furthermore, I communicated with our group and Aggy to ensure we were on track and ensure we met all the project week criterias and were on the right track which I could then share with the group. I was also media coordinator, so I was responsible for taking lots of photos, I have been editing the video now and for recording the reflections during the week itself. As the planning progressed, we had to be more flexible to all the changes happening as there were budget issues and planning problems. This just meant working harder and putting in the effort to make it work. This was important learning for me, as in the future I need to ensure I am responding positively to changes instead of letting them get me down (such as having to cut some activities I was looking forward to out of our itinerary due to high costs…)
IN ORDER FOR US TO BE SUCCESSFUL THIS WEEK, WHAT DO WE HAVE TO REMEMBER?
MIDWAY: WHAT HAS GONE WELL AND WHY HAS IT GONE WELL?
Note: We forgot to record on our nature hike because we didn’t use our phones of course! So we tried to recreate the sounds at dinner lol xd
END: SO WERE WE SUCCESSFUL ON THIS TRIP?
THE TOP THREE THINGS I LEARNT ABOUT MYSELF IN THIS ACTIVITY WAS THAT:
- Independence comes easy to me. I know this already from home, but this trip made it very clear. Looking after myself, being organized, getting everything done, etc. came easy and was natural, and I feel this trip also made me better at is such as being more organized and more aware of my surroundings. Especially when I’m out, it’s knowing how to stay safe, because I feel Singapore is very safe and gives me the wrong idea of how the world is – so understanding this outside in other countries in Asia which are dangerous, learning this was important.
- How much I love my friends and how much I love being around them. We never got sick of each other, seeing each other first thing in the morning and all talking all night until going straight to bed. We bonded a lot, and I realized how grateful I am having friends around me who I can trust and who I can feel safe around. I feel this was important because it taught me the importance of relationships and friendship, where in Singapore I am never one to share my life with others or initiate seeing others on the weekend simply because I’ve never felt the need to be surrounded by others. But this trip has shown me what value there is in it.
- The importance of being flexible, and of having backup plans. All days, we got home sooner than expected – so we were left on our own accord. Therefore, we had to research and figure out what to do with our time, and be flexible to these hours of the day as well to find out what was available. It was important knowing that we must always be flexible, otherwise, if we are sitting in bed wasting time and being bored with nothing to do, we should take initiative and go out and do something, even if it’s not planned well. This means going with the flow, being flexible and accommodating to time, and always planning ahead when you go anywhere just to have backup plans.
LO 6 GLOBAL VALUE (Engaging with issues of global importance)
One of the great issues was understanding that not everyone lives the same way we do, and that it made me really grateful to live how I do. For example on our bike tour, we went to the countryside and went into very old and traditional Thai villages where people lived with close to nothing. Furthermore, seeing people on the streets, and when in the night market we passed many strip clubs where women were walking around selling their bodies to men and tourists. I feel this really opened up my eyes to how difficult life can be to some people that they have to resort to acts such as these, and it made me really sympathetic to see how hard it must be to get by. I feel this amongst all the issues that became apparent was one that stood out most to me, simply because this is the reality for so many women everywhere. It makes me so grateful to afford a great education where I have so many opportunities to take my life further. I feel this is also why it is so important to educate women and give them such opportunities to make something of themselves, why it’s important to make sure women respect themselves by ensuring everyone gives them the respect they deserve no matter what – not having them sell themselves like objects can be done by ensuring no one, no man, looks at them like an object in the first place. This is strikingly significant to me as issues around gender have always frustrated me, and it’s so unfair that because of where you’re born or the position you’re put into – there seems like no other way to earn money or move forward. I feel that it is so objectifying but many of them might not know where else to go. This is something I definitely want to look into, as empowering women to take control of their lives and their bodies is so important no matter what the situation.
LO 7 ETHICS (Considering the ethical implications of actions)
I feel there were many ethical decisions, for example, on the first day we did a lot of temple visits. Therefore, being respectful was so important, this meant how loud we were, what kind of photos we took (no disrespectful or joking photos), how we dressed (I wore a Sarong), etc. Because respecting another culture and their traditions is so important when going anywhere, and making the decisions prior to ensure we are being accommodated to them is a necessity. This meant doing research beforehand such as what to be wearing even around the streets in Bangkok, researching their culture, and luckily having the guide who could tell us what was important for us to do. Luckily coming from an International school has made me very aware of those around me and aware of other people and cultures, so I have already built in these moral principles of respect and understanding that has allowed me to make the right decisions when traveling elsewhere. I was never in conflict due to different morals because I feel my whole group is very aware and together we ensured we all did our best to integrate ourselves into Thai culture for the week. As a result, I have learnt a lot about not only Thai culture, but ensured I have made a good impression on everyone we’ve seen and talked to, and not offended anyone in any way.