A GROUP from Carmel College, Thornlands, experienced culture and kindness up close during a week-long Immersion to Samoa.
The 12 students and seven staff members immersed themselves in local communities and schools, as they strengthened their capacity to lead, engage and teach with a re-contextualised Catholic world-view.
They visited Samusu primary school, St Joseph's Marist secondary school, Sanese special school for hearing impaired students, Little Sisters' of the Poor elderly people's home and Campus of Hope - a victims' support centre and the National Children's Hospital.
Through their new experiences and seeing through new lens, the students reminded themselves of Christ and his teachings, and the “principle of solidarity", where we stand with the marginalised.
The students and staff also engaged in Mass at the Immaculate Conception Cathedral and the Shrine of Three Hearts.
Year 11 student Jordan Rosenthal said he returned from the spiritual experience with the ability to think and evaluate his life on a deeper level and with added perspective.
“Visiting the schools made me appreciate that although their possessions are few, a lot fewer than many of us, they seemed so happy.
“This really resonated with me in a broader context, as so often as an Australian teenager, name brand clothing, the latest technology devices and experiences are things we rely so heavily on for our happiness. “The Samoan experience encouraged me to look deeper on a personal level at what makes me happy in life and appreciate moments with friends and family more than physical possessions," he said.
Year 10 student Reina McQuade said she returned from the trip inspired and motivated.
“I can proudly say that the week in Samoa was truly the best week of my life.
“I was able to interact first- hand with local Samoans and see another side to the world that I hadn't yet seen.
“Something that really stands out from my experience, is the qualities of unconditional love, happiness and generosity all of the Samoans displayed.
“At every place we visited in Samoa, the people showed us immense generosity and kindness – this inspired and motivated me throughout my time there.
“Despite not being materialistically wealthy, their wealth was signified in spirituality, family and love.
The unconditional love I felt from the people in Samoa was so incredible and something that I had never experienced before.
“I didn't just make lifelong friends in Samoa, I made family and this experience is something that I am so grateful for and will forever cherish."
Teacher Lee Brand said the experience was rewarding for both the staff and the students.
“Growing up in a small town, as well as experiencing other countries during my lifetime, it was confirming to me to experience the family-oriented Samoan culture," he said.
“It was refreshing to be welcomed into their culture and as a growing part of their families.
“Everywhere we went, from children to the aged, it did not matter what they had in material possession, but what they were able to share as a group.
“Having so much material possession in our society here in the Redlands, we sometimes forget that we can be so much happier by growing closer and helping those around us.
“It is much more rewarding, and the Samoan culture taught us - or reminded us - of all of that," he said.
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