Carnarvon Christian School's first student tour to Indonesia confirmed the Principal's belief in the motivational benefits of in-country experiences for students and provided valuable lessons for tour leaders too.
Mr James Shaw, Principal of Carnarvon Christian School had visited Tomohon five times before leading a student tour to this Minahasa Highlands town in North Sulawesi. He lists friends and contacts in the predominantly Christian population, the impressive natural and cultural features and the size and relative coolness of the town (compared with nearby Manado) as factors that influenced his choice of destination for year 6 and 7 students.
Mr Shaw relied on his friends, a network of Christian families in Tomohon, to arrange accommodation, catering and local transport. Visits to schools, an orphanage, markets, hot springs, a volcano and Bunaken National Marine Park were also arranged. The rich cultural experiences organised for students included participating in lessons and playing soccer at school, examining unique architecture and gravesites, hosting orphanage children at dinner, riding in horse-drawn carts, ploughing a field with a wooden plough drawn by a buffalo and meeting Tarsiers monkeys, the world's smallest.
The group of ten students, two teachers and five parents first travelled from Carnarvon to Perth by bus and then by air to Manado, via Bali and finally by bus to the highlands for their stay of five days. They took with them two laptop computers which were presented to the schools they visited and a repertoire of Indonesian songs to break the ice in class. They presented the orphanage with two desktop computers and 200kg of rice.
"As an adjunct to the normal curriculum, the tour was a resounding success." says Mr Shaw. "It heightened students' awareness of Indonesia and gave them a real reason for learning the language." Read the student blog of the tour.