For 11 students from St Norbert College, the value of their first international immersion to Indonesia was unanimous.
The students, along with five teachers, each deemed the trip “life changing” after delivering donations collected by the College community during the year to a section of Bali most Australians would never see.
At locations well beyond popular tourist destinations, the group spent the school holidays at a children’s refuge, a school, an orphanage and a cancer hospice, among others.
Wearing the traditional St Norbert colours of navy blue and gold, the year 10 and Year 11 students eagerly handed out clothing, toiletries, games, shoes, mops and buckets and fresh food supplies, including an iconic Australian classic – the Vegemite sandwich.
Immersion participants visited Paud Samitania School 2, which is located at a rubbish tip in Sanur, and serves children whose families live at the site.
For Immersion organiser Margaret Kyd, the College’s Student Ministry Coordinator, the trip was like nothing she had ever experienced before.
“On the drive in, you see little makeshift houses and it is hard to comprehend that the children live there,’’ she said.
“However, they take pride in their appearance and come to school beautifully presented.
“There are three small classrooms with a blackboard in each, about 20 students in each class, and not a lot of resources.”
A similar scenario unfolded at the Sidhi Astu Tuka Orphanage, run by the Franciscan Sisters.
“Seeing the smiles on everyone’s faces warmed my heart,” student Janista Naokhunthot said.
The group also made strong connections with elderly patients at Cancer House, also in Sanur.
“I walked in to see our students massaging the patients’ hands and arms – much to the absolute delight of the patients,’’ Ms Kyd said.
“It was so lovely. We played some music and some of the patients danced with some of our students.
“They really gave these people a lot of joy.
“In return, our students enjoyed the experience.
“Our leader, Leon from Helping Hands Across the Sands charity, said on numerous occasions, ‘I love your kids, they serve from the heart.’
“We can’t ask for much more than that.’’
Indonesian Immersion will now become a biennial tradition for St Norbert students in line with the College motto, Prepared for All Good Works.