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Mel’s trip of a lifetime Part 1: The build-up to departure day

Posted on 30/10/2014 by
ITC's Short Course Team Leader Mel riding an elephant in Southeast Asia

ITC’s Short Course Team Leader Mel riding an elephant in Southeast Asia

ITC’s Short Course Team Leader Mel recently got home from a trip of a lifetime to Thailand and Laos. Mel joined Manurewa High School on their Humanitarian Aid Leadership Programme (HALP), of which ITC is a proud sponsor. In part one of this two-part blog series, she takes us back to where it all started.

 

ITC has worked closely with Manurewa High School (MHS) for a long time, providing workbooks and courses for their students. While building this strong relationship, ITC became aware of the amazing work MHS does outside of the school curriculum. The school designed a Humanitarian Aid Leadership Programme; an international trip designed to enlighten, educate and above all else grow the students into more experienced leaders.

When ITC heard about HALP, it was clear this was an initiative ITC wanted to support. ITC has now been sponsoring the trip for several years. HALP aligns strongly with ITC’s core values. The trip gives students the chance to see and experience things they could never do in New Zealand, as well as an amazing opportunity to grow as a person and gain strong leadership skills.

Students who have been on this trip in the past have enrolled with ITC and were not hesitant to speak about how it was ‘one of the most amazing experiences they have ever had’ and one they will ‘cherish for years to come’.

In addition to sponsoring HALP 2014, ITC also paid for me to go along as an adult leader. I hugely appreciated the opportunity to see firsthand what ITC’s generous donation goes toward. The financial support ITC provides directly improves the lives of so many people.

Anticipation sets in

HALP 2014 was a journey to assist in humanitarian aid in Laos and it also included some travel through Thailand. I knew this would be one of the single most amazing experiences I would ever have. The trip would give me the opportunity to be a part of a life-changing journey for these teenage students. I was ready to put my positive influence and commitment into HALP 2014 as soon I heard the news.

The journey definitely began before the departure day as there was a lot of planning and preparation to do. We needed to fundraise to help support the incredible humanitarian work we were going to assist in. As one of the lucky few who has the chance to be part of this trip, I felt a strong urge to help raise money so that it could be used to help those in need.

The Ultimate Circuit

I soon came up with the Ultimate Circuit; a fundraising event designed to not only challenge people physically and mentally, but to help bring ITC’s contacts in the tourism industry to the party.

The Ultimate Circuit attracted nearly 100 attendees and thanks to my trainer Scott Cottier and his company Spec Force Fitness, it was a true success. Together with help from the students participating in the HALP trip we designed a truly challenging and memorable circuit session. Participants could opt for a 1 or 2 hour session, and both ended with a nice – although mentally challenging! – dip in the school pool. This event raised $1,000 on its own.

Counting down to take-off

We had a final information evening 1 week before the HALP trip and you could see the nervous faces were not from the kids but in fact from the parents. A lot of these kids had never left New Zealand before. Fortunately trip organisers Phil and Donella, along with a travel professional who was our guest speaker, did an amazing job of setting our minds at ease. The organising of the whole trip was flawless and the itinerary was easy to understand.

The day of departure had an amazing energy about it. Uncertain faces and nervous smiles filled the departure lounge, but the overall feeling was one of excitement and positivity. We all huddled and spoke about our “mission” and had a quick farewell prayer. Some tearful farewells began and we boarded our plane – destination, Bangkok.

The journey of a lifetime had begun. In all of our minds was the question: what is this trip going to do? Will this journey change us? If so, how?

Part 2 of Mel’s trip of a lifetime will be published next week.

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