Ten Griffith University business students have just returned from a life-changing experience in the south-east Asian country of Laos, where their collective efforts have assisted in bringing about change within local communities.
The 2014 Laos Community Development Project is supported by Antipodeans Abroad and is an annual initiative of the Griffith Business School (GBS) Student Leadership Program.
Students actively brought together their business smarts to develop a needs analysis at the building site of a high school classroom in desperate need of renovation in the Pak Xeng district.
Their eagerness to take a more hands on role was welcomed by the locals of the community by having them put to work immediately by mixing cement for the bricks they would soon lay, before rendering the completed walls.
“This has been a great exercise in self exploration and I’ll use the experiences of Laos to gain a more levelled perspective on what life represents; knowing how lucky we are to be living here in Australia,” said Sonja Dorey.
Aisling Brennan felt proud to have contributed her time and energy to ensure a better life for the people of Laos.
“From this experience I’ve gained a whole new appreciation and understanding of the world around me and a realisation of the struggles endured by those less fortunate,” confirmed Ms Aisling.
“I’m certain I’ll be less inclined to get down about my own circumstances and be much more positive about the future.”
The net result of the 10-day initiative by the second year GBS leadership students will assist in providing the Pak Xeng community, educational facilities to accommodate its growing numbers and support the need for education reform as identified by local business people, farmers, and local government officials in conjunction with the national Laos government.
“Studying Tourism and Hotel Management I’ve learnt how difficult sustainable tourism can be in developing nations and the implications that can arise from a social, economic and environmental perspective,” confirmed Rebecca Piper.
“To experience these issues in real life situations is so much more beneficial than within a classroom environment. The Laos project has not only assisted in my studies but I’ve also had the opportunity, in a small way, to give something worthwhile back to the community.”
Fundraising was undertaken by the students prior to their departure with all proceeds raised to be submitted as part of the broader construction project.
“This project has been an excellent opportunity to help facilitate change in the community,” added Kaitlin Bakker.
“It’s been a privilege to represent the Griffith Business School Student Leaders in giving back to communities and villages that need it most.
“Participation in this program is based around giving and I hope to gain the satisfaction of influencing others in the future, to have the same urge and devotion to helping those in need.”
The Laos Community Development Project contributed towards the students’ community service hours—an integral part of the GBS Student Leadership Program. It also provided students with a unique opportunity to engage in valuable community work which will have a long term and positive impact on the community.