A batch of handmade bracelets is winging its way from the Gold Coast to Iceland this week. For Griffith business students Elisabet Osk Gudmundsdottir and Lauren Radford the consignment completes their fund-raising obligations ahead of a university project to Laos this weekend.

Elisabet and Lauren are among a group of 13 Griffith Business School student leaders participating in the 2013 Laos Community Development Project, supported by Antipodeans Abroad.

During the 10-day trip, the leaders — along with student development coordinator Joanne Fairclough and program service officer Amelia Jong – will carry out a needs analysis at the building site of an artesian well in the Sop Jak district.

Funds raised by the group will be channeled into this construction project which will service the local high school and medical centre on completion.

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The students will get their hands dirty when they move further north to work on a project with the Wildlife Conservation Society.

The Laos project provides the students with a unique opportunity to engage in valuable community work which will have a long-term and positive impact on the local area.

It is also likely to have an enduring impact on the 13 lives whose university student experience will be greatly enhanced by their involvement.

“The Laos trip is consistent with the underlying principles of sustainable business practice that underpin the mission of the Griffith Business School,” Dean (International), Griffith Business School, Professor Chris Auld, says.

“The students will be operating outside a typical, more familiar business context. We want them to recognise that business is more than just profits but also about people and the planet. As future business leaders with a global outlook, they will see the need to encourage, model and achieve an approach to business that is sustainable and responsible. It’s important our students have those values when they graduate.”

The student group travelling to Laos had to raise a combined total of $3,000 for the project. All team members have also gathered items from a ‘wish list’ for the communities they will visit in Laos.

The ‘wish list’ includes balloons, board games, coloured pencils, shaving sets, soaps and staplers. Each team member has been granted an extra 10kg on their luggage limit from Thai Airways to accommodate ‘wish list’ cargo.

Gold Coast students Elisabet and Lauren came up with a fund-raising initiative to make 150 bracelets to sell for $5 each. With the support of new student leaders in the leadership program, most of the bracelets were made during a one-hour workshop.

A large order from friends and family in her native Iceland saw Elisabet, an event management student, dispatch a final batch of bracelets to the other side of the world this week, bringing the fund-raising total for her and Lauren to $660.

“The material for the bracelets cost about $88,” Lauren, who is studying a double degree in business and communication, says.

“We decided to make something because we thought it would be easier to ask people to buy something tangible than ask them for a donation. The response has been fantastic.

“I think the Laos experience will give me a greater outlook on other cultures, and also an appreciation of the type of contribution I can make in an underdeveloped region.”

Trivia nights, sausage sizzles, office barbecues and company donations have helped the group to exceed the $3000 target for the project, which contributes to the students’ community service hours as part of the Griffith Business School Student Leadership Program.

Global outlook

The Laos project is also one of five Griffith Business School projects targeting the government’s new AsiaBound grants program. The $37 million program was announced last October, following the release of the Asian Century White Paper.

AsiaBound provides funding in the form of $2000 or $5000 grants foraround 3600 Australian students each year to participate in a study experience in Asia.

Professor Auld says the Griffith Business School is determined to maintain and develop opportunities for international student experiences.

“The students gain a global outlook, develop language skills and become more comfortable working in an overseas environment,” he says.

“It is increasingly important for Griffith Business School students to have an international element to their degree and education experience.

“Business students are much more aware today that business is a global career.

“Twenty years ago, business students typically looked closer to home for a career. Today, business graduates realise that great careers beckon overseas, and they need to be prepared for the opportunities.

“Companies are increasingly looking to locate skilled talent anywhere in the world.”