ODAC Youth Expedition Project, Yunnan
From 18th November to 2nd December 2012, 19 students and 3 teachers from the Outdoor Activities Club (ODAC) embarked on a Youth Expedition Project (YEP) to Ringha Village in Shangri-La County, Yunnan, China.
This overseas service learning project took on an environmental scope in tackling the issues in Ringha Village. Students were involved in 3 main areas during the trip:
Education: Students were involved in teaching pre-school children in Ringha Community Nursery where they shared with the children good habits for proper waste management/ disposal, hygiene issues related to toilets, recycling and the impact to the environment.
Infrastructure: A waste pit was designed and built in a strategic location decided by the team. For many students, it was their first time dealing with construction tools. The strenuous physical labour that the students were involved in to build the waste pit made the students more appreciative of the people behind Singapore’s construction industry.
Sustainability: A group of students was involved in a research project where they gathered data of the current waste management system in Ringha Village and how the waste pit that the team has built is going to improve the current issue of environmental pollution that Ringha Village is facing. Students also brainstormed for ideas to improve the current system. After this extensive research, they made a presentation and proposal to Banyan Tree Ringha Hotel in bid to get their support that will help in the sustainability of this project. This experience was a great opportunity for students to use what they have learnt and apply it in a real-life situation.
During the trip, students took turns to cook for the entire team. Students were entrusted with the responsibility of the budget, marketing and cooking food for their team. Considering how most students have never cooked before, they did a great job in providing nutritious and hygienic food for their team.
The team also embarked on a 1-day trek in Ringha Valley. Perched at 3200m, the team has to work together to pace the trek carefully so that nobody will be susceptible to altitude sickness. Their hard work was rewarded as they get to appreciate the remote and pristine environment of wide barren grasslands along the Tibetan plateau.
Throughout the trip, the interaction between the students and their host families made the students come to a realisation of various issues. Sharing sessions facilitated by the teachers as well as reflections done highlighted how the stark contrast between the lifestyle in the village and the city that they have known made them realise the importance of prioritising family time, living a thrifty lifestyle etc. It was also heartening to see the villagers touched by the students’ efforts to make improvement in their community.
This YEP was merely a 15-day trip but it was no doubt just the start of a journey of life that the students have embarked on.
Here are some of the students’ reflections of this trip:
“This YEP trip was held in an environment where conditions were harsh, pushing me beyond my comfort zone and I had to learn to adapt and blend in. It is by far the most challenging CIP I ever had and I had to learn to pick up from where I fell. The obstacles pushed me to become even stronger and more resilient, allowing me to learn from my mistakes.”
Tang Hui Min, 12Y5C36
“This was my first OCIP trip. It was a very different environment as compared to Singapore. This has definitely allowed me to learn a lot and appreciate things that I took for granted.”
Goh Jia Ying, 12Y5C23