High School OELP Adventure Week 2017
Connecting across different cultures, overcoming challenges, trying things you’ve never done before, learning about self, and completing a service project to make a positive difference to the lives of others: the Adventure Week program at AIS continues to offer opportunities for students to grow holistically.
The Outdoor Education and Leadership Program (OELP) is a residential week-long learning experience known as ‘Adventure Week’. In November 2017, AIS high school students returned from their Adventure Week programs. Students selected their trip from a choice of 9 options, around the South-East Asian region (China, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Malaysia, India, Hong Kong) and as far away as New Zealand and Fiji. Each program had elements of adventure based challenges, connections with the local community, a service project and probably some fun team building or some cultural sightseeing to enjoy. Some students stayed in Hong Kong, but most went overseas.
OF STUDENTS RATED THEIR TRIP AS AN 8, 9 OR 10 OUT OF 10 EXPERIENCE
OF STUDENTS IDENTIFIED THE SERVICE PROJECT AS ONE OF THE BEST BITS FROM OELP
OF STUDENTS AGREED OELP IS A GREAT WAY TO MAKE/DEEPEN FRIENDSHIPS
Through each program students faced challenges, worked together in teams to problem solve, overcame fears and learned more about living in community. They focused on a service project that often meant helping to construct homes or lay the foundations for new pathways or buildings for the communities we worked alongside. Often the trip also focused on a specific global issue (e.g. animal or environmental conservation). Many trips offered students the opportunity to view amazing sights and visit places of historical and cultural interest.
We work closely with non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to help us manage the service projects, and they help to ensure our actions are not tokenistic because we are contributing towards sustainable projects that are part of ongoing activities that the NGO supports all year round. Each overseas program enables students to experience a different culture, and to make connections with the locals that we work closely with and often live among as we spend our time away from the comforts we are used to back in Hong Kong. These connections and these experiences can have a lasting impact on students who engage fully with the purpose of the trip. The feedback that follows, taken from a survey, reassures me that students are not only having fun and developing friendships, but are also maturing in their roles as citizens of the world.
“Being able to explore the culture of the Fijians was truly an eye-opening experience that I'll never forget. Their positivity and attitude towards life was unforgettable and proved to be life changing for me.”
“During the beach clean up, I realized how dirty the beach was and how much garbage people throw into the sea. If we weren't there to clean up a bit of it, it would have probably been much worse. With the experience, I will be more aware of the trash and the waste that I throw away.”
“Adventure Week taught me not to take things for granted because people in the village had nearly nothing, which made me realize how truly lucky I was.”
Whenever alumni come back to visit the school and see their former teachers and counselors, they always share how much they miss the AIS community and how important their Adventure Week trips were to them. Research shows “students learn best when the learning is punctuated by truly memorable peak moments” (What schools can do to help students engage more in learning by Chip & Dan Heath, an article published online in Education Week, January 10, 2018). In many ways, this is what occurs during Adventure Week: students engage in activities that connect to the real world and make a difference. These experiences challenge them personally and positively impact their attitudes and behaviors. The experience remains a highlight for them throughout their time at high school and beyond too. These are the types of experiences we value.