St. Johns Grammar School
Service & Cultural Learning Journey of Vietnam

Last year students from St John’s Grammar school in South Australia travelled on their annual educational trip to Vietnam. Amongst several highlights, the trip entailed several days spent in a remote province of the Mekong Delta, constructing a dwelling in an effort of solidarity alongside local villagers.

Students also learned of the significance of the Mekong River as an important water source and the ramifications of upstream damming in China and Laos and how this is affecting the water flow, silt levels, fish migration and livelihoods of millions of residents who are dependent on this water source for their livelihoods.

St John’s Grammar School’s ethos places great importance on social justice and thus this trip had a particular emphasis of student’s learning of the social and cultural issues in southeast Asia. Understanding the local way of life and the importance of strong family values was something else our students were made aware of in an area of the country with the largest family sizes. The group spent time visiting the cottage industries along the river banks where the locals utilised the local resources to produce products such as bricks, tiles, rice paper rolls and local sweets. This was of interest to students interested in sustainability, resourcefulness and utilizing the local markets, transport system and Mekong river for goods distribution and sale.

Throughout the 2-week tour students engaged in several activities and excursions aimed at increasing their awareness and understanding of Vietnam as well as themselves as a group. Bicycle rides, cooking classes, trekking through the terraces rice fields in Sapa gave students shared experiences and time to bond and form new friendships. At other times students learned about the Vietnamese education system vastly different to that back home and the one-party socialist state where the hammer and sickle prevail. Students could see the fast-paced developing cities of Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City laying the underground metro system and building huge apartments blocks as urban populations continue to grow and try to cope with the burgeoning middle class and demand for a higher standard of living.

This educational tour to Vietnam provided students with an eye opening and thought provoking 2-week experience of one of their Asian neighbours. The tour also helped to increase student’s awareness as a global citizen and understand another culture that will help benefit students growing up in the Asia Century. Roll on the 2019 tour…..