Sunshine School, Laos visits the AM River School, Australia
by Kamala Alister
For four weeks in July students at the Ananda Marga River School in Australia had a wonderful opportunity to enjoy a student exchange with the Sunshine School in Laos. Nine students (mostly 14 and 15 years old), along with three teachers and school Principal Didi Ananda Gaorii, visited our school for the month.
The nine students stayed with five host families who kindly volunteered to have two children in each home. During the school days, the students spent some time together with opportunities for reflection and planning, and then some time helping out and taking part in the River School classrooms. On two days each week, the Lao students went on outings including some tourist adventures such as the Australia Zoo, Underwater World, and an outing to Brisbane and to the Gold Coast beaches. They also served a free meal at the Maleny Neighbourhood Centre for 60 people, visited another local alternative school, helped at the Children’s’ Garden, played indoor soccer with the locals, and did a ropes course at an outdoor education centre.
The students and teachers also organised a Lao Cafe Night for parents and student of the River School. Nearly 100 people attended the event, enjoying a beautiful Lao meal followed by two wonderful dances by the Lao students, a video about Lao and a powerpoint about the Sunshine School. This raised nearly $500 towards the Lao students’ activities.
Thanks to Didi Ananda Gaorii for planning and organising such a major event. It’s been so positive for the entire River School community! I think we’ve all become rather attached to these nine brave students and their lovely teachers, who have spent the month with us.