PA students to experience humanitarianism in Thailand

By James Bowler
March 22, 2013 - 6:05am

A group of Prince Albert students will be heading to Thailand to experience the country and lend a helping hand.

Donna Dalziel, head of the Prince Albert Youth Travel club will be taking a select group of teens, who will be departing on Friday as part of her bi-annual tours. While these trips -connected to Educational Foundation (EF) Tours - usually only involve visits to major sites as well as some immersion into the culture, this year they’re adding some humanitarian aid to the trip.

“They will see first-hand how education is revered in other countries such as Thailand,” said Dalziel. “They’ll see that education is nothing to take for granted, that it’s a privilege.”

Students have been asked to bring school supplies along with them to provide to a school in Thailand which is in need of such supplies.

Each student will be packing at least 10 pounds of supplies in their luggage.

Students will also be providing some help to the school during their visit as part of the humanitarian portion of the trip. However, Dalziel said they have not been told exactly what they will be doing yet.

Kennedy Erickson, one of the students going on this trip and a newcomer to the tour group, said she is looking forward to visiting a place she’s never been before.

“It’s not a common travel place even for high school groups,” said Erickson, “I’m learning about how people live all the way across the world and the different culture and religion.”

Erickson is no stranger to accepting new cultures into her life, with her family having hosted a foreign exchange student from Mexico.

“We went to visit them and we went to a place that didn’t have tourists and (no one) spoke English,” said Erickson.

Erickson’s mother Carla, said she is nervous for her daughter but feels that she will benefit from the learning experience.

“I’m definitely nervous but excited as well,” she said. “Thailand is a long ways away from Prince Albert so if anything was to happen, it’s a couple days away to get from her. It’s the furthest she’s ever been away from me. I’ve seen in the past how travel benefits young people, and it opens their minds and makes them appreciate home a lot more.”

Another newcomer to the trip, Adam Harradence, said he is looking forward to some of the humanitarian work on the trip.

“It’s nice to give back to people,” said Harradence. “It’s a completely different place; you never know what’s going to happen.”

One student who was with Dalziel last year on a trip to Argentina and Brazil said it was an experience she would never forget.

“It was lots of fun, it’s not the stuff I would expect,” said Shaye Nikolaisen. “The things you see and learn, I couldn’t believe it when we went up to Christ the Redeemer, (and) I will never forget that.”

Nikolaisen said helping the school in Thailand will be an emotional experience.

“My heart, it will warm my heart to see the kids be so excited over a deck of cards,” said Nikolaisen.

And Dalziel has put a number of safety measures in place to protect the students.

“Kids have to be in groups of four, if something goes wrong someone can stay with the person that has had the accident and the other two can find myself or one of the other advisors,” said Dalziel. “We have tour directors who are second to none, they only take us to where they know we will be safe.”

Dalziel said there was an incident last year where a girl became ill during their trip to Brazil. With the help of MLA Darryl Hickie, MP Randy Hoback and EF they were able to get the girl’s father into Brazil and have her get proper medical care.

The illness was not contracted while she was in Brazil.

As for this trip, the students will tour Thailand for 18 days.

The next trip currently being planned will take a group of students to Switzerland, Italy and Germany. Parents who would like to register their kids can meet Dalziel at Messiah Lutheran Church on April 18 at 6 p.m.

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