“The energy was amazing. I was surrounded by uncertain faces and nervous smiles – you could almost taste the excitement and apprehension in the room. For many students, this would be their first time away from their parents."
In September 2014 I joined a large group of Manurewa High School students on a Humanitarian Aid Leadership Programme to Thailand and Laos. This trip was an opportunity for secondary school students as young as 15 to experience a world far different from the one they are blessed with.
Once upon a time, I too was a Manurewa High School student. To have this opportunity to be an adult leader meant I could not only be honoured in sharing this special trip but also be a big part in ensuring the students could see far deeper than what meets the eye. I wanted to help them take away very special memories to cherish, and to inspire them to use this experience to go far beyond what they set out to achieve in the future.
I will never forget the moments before departure at Auckland Airport. The energy was amazing. For many students, this would be their first time away from their parents. After some tearful farewells, we banded together and boarded our plane to Bangkok.
I was honoured to be called “Aunty” Mel within just a few days. It was so important to make sure I built a strong bond with the students who were the furthest they had ever been away from home! This was a huge step on a personal and cultural level, but it made this trip all the more rewarding for me.
Each well-planned visit meant we could experience the very most of the situation we were in. We stayed in a small village and became “one of the family” by staying in family huts. We also participated in customary traditional ceremonies, stepped in the shoes of the very rich culture and all of this really gave a much bigger appreciation to what luxuries we have in our own lives.
This amazing journey for just over two weeks brought special moments I personally will treasure forever. The impact we each had on one another was a big eye opener. You think you personally have a purpose on this planet and I alway think some of mine is to inspire. Journeys to other countries far different from ours actually inspires all of us. I came home with a full heart and memories rich with culture.
The biggest learning curve was to never take what we have for granted and always put yourself in such situations to keep that feeling alive! Experience all what life has to offer and fill this wonderful life with rich and fulfilling adventures such as this trip was for me. None of us get out alive so why not create a life of love and adventure.
Mel Fey is a Kiwi mum of two with an irrepressible sense of adventure. She teaches tourism at The International Travel College of New Zealand and runs her own lifestyle business, ‘Motivation Endurance Learning’ (or MEL for short!). She’s about to embark on her biggest challenge to-date; running the Everest Marathon. You can follow her journey here.
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