A couple months back my Assistant Deputy Head asked me, "What if we did an amazing race-type field trip where the kids had to do challenges around the country. Would that be crazy?" My answer was, "Lets do it!" From there she headed the logistics and preparation until the very last day of the trip. Well done Heather (check out her blog) It truly was an incredible trip. With the assistance of EXO Adventures we were able to make it happen.
5 teams, 5 teachers, all on buses, completing physical and psychological challenges for 5 days in Central Vietnam. We produced a very basic itinerary: Fly into Hue, Travel by Bus to Lang Co and then to Hoi An, Fly back to Ho Chi Minh City from Da Nang via Vietjetair.
Everyday the kids were asking us, "Whats next?" But we didn't really know because we were involved in the game too. Surely we had an idea of in order to ensure all the safeguarding practices were met, but we didn't let the kids know what little we knew.
Teachers only encouraged the kids to make decisions, we tried to stand back as much as possible This was so difficult at some points. Once the first clue was given, students broke out in a mad dash and raced for the boats across a river to search for a former tiger and elephant fighting arena. It was a really cool first clue. The next task involved sprinting around the Hue Citadel and completing a series of riddles based on the images and stories of the past. We started to notice heated exchanges between students here and quickly gave a sportsmanship speech to settle things down. Points were tallied and at the end of the week and awards were given out (all the kids got the same award with the exception of one group who had a mid-week foot massage)
Travelling everyday was probably the most difficult job, but students quickly learned they weren't staying in one place for long. Another challenge involved high wire ropes, zip-lines and ruining up big hills. Students had to conquer their fears and work together to finish the tasks. The following day was spent on the Beach in Lang co with a series of mind bending and body twisting tasks in the sand. By this time the teams were really into it and so were the teachers!
It' hard to retell these events day by day because there were so many great things that occurred in between. Students encouraged one another, applauded other teams and showed real respect to everyone involved.
The last day in Hoi An was the final challenge. This was what closely resembled the Amazing Race!
Teams were finding clues on old bridges, interviewing foreigners, locating local dishes and eating them, and interviewing natives to Hoi An on their history. It was incredible to say the least. They all finished in high spirits.
Throughout the week EXO Adventures and our team from ISHCMC American Academy encouraged students to put together a karaoke performance. Well the kids did a great job, but it might have been the teachers that stole the show. We were a surprise act at the end and we performed "Up town funk" by Bruno Mars. I have to compliment the girls on this one for preparing and organizing our dance rehearsals. Andrew and I had a good time, but didn't really do a whole lot.
Upon reaching the airport, none of the students wanted to go home. We talked about their experiences and what they appreciated most about the journey . We only had to give out two band-aids and had one missing ID card. we didn't lose any students and no hospital visits. Mission complete. I can't wait until next year!