Thirteen Damascus College students are preparing for an eye-opening trip to Timor Leste where they will teach English in their sister school Santa Maria College in Ainaro and distribute funds raised to local organisations.
The travel group and the four teachers accompanying them spent their lunch time on Tuesday packing bags with donated school supplies, sporting goods and art materials to donate to the school.
It will be the ninth time that year 11 students and teachers have taken part in the Immersion Program, where the group experience a different culture and way of life.
But it's much more than just an 11-day school trip. For the group it's been a year-long commitment of fundraising and projects to help the school and other organisations that are trying to make a difference in the country.
"I'm looking forward to experiencing the different opportunity that they have as students in their society compared to what we have. It will be a good contrast to what we take for granted ... and really eye opening," said student Patrick Weston.
Students held an election day barbecue at school, a Bunnings barbecue, raffles, trivia night, chocolate sales and other events to raise money for the trip.
Staff member Simon Carroll, who will be going to Timor Leste for the third time, said the students would be out of their comfort zones on the trip.
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"There's a steep curve of development as they come to terms with the differences between here and Timor," he said.
"You watch the shift from students who are a bit nervous generally to finding their social network and realising we are all more same than different, and they start to reflect on things that are different and generally how well off we are in Australia in general with resources in our towns and schools regardless of personal wealth."
The group leave for Timor Leste on Thursday.
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