Shauni James is a Rotorua Daily Post reporter

Local students return from life changing trip

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SCENERY: Rotorua students took in breathtaking views during their trip to Nepal. PHOTO/SUPPLIED
SCENERY: Rotorua students took in breathtaking views during their trip to Nepal. PHOTO/SUPPLIED

Rotorua students have returned from a "life changing" and "unforgettable" trip to Nepal, where they volunteered and did sightseeing.

Eight students from Rotorua - six from Rotorua Lakes High School and two from John Paul College - travelled to Nepal last month as part of the Kiwi Holiday Adventure Aid and Travel (KHAAT) Nepal programme.

Ten New Zealand students made the trip, along with four guides.

The trip was 17 days in total for youth aged 16 to 20. It involved both volunteering and a trek of about five days in Annapurna.

KHAAT founder Olivia Dean said the trip was "a roaring success".

"It was such a diverse and enlightening experience."

Miss Dean said the students served dinner to the homeless, taught children about New Zealand, painted the interiors of classrooms and murals on the exterior, experienced a taste of the Dashain festival, challenged themselves physically and mentally trekking, and interacted with children who were "so happy and loving yet living with very little and without families".

"It was a huge 17 days, leaving the students with a lot to reflect on, great memories and friends forever."

She said the Nepalise children fell in love with the students.

"It was so great seeing the eyes of our young New Zealanders lit up, knowing they were influencing these children and giving them so much happiness."

Robbie Wong-Toi, 17, from John Paul College and Amy Jordan, 17, from Rotorua Lakes High School said the volunteering and interacting with children was a lot of fun and rewarding.

They said the urban environment was completely different and really busy, and that the people were really nice.

Amy said she made a lot of new friends and got to know her peers.

She said appreciating what we had was also something she took away from the trip - "that was a big part for me".

Robbie said the appreciation gave you a desire to start giving to those who did not have much.

He said there were people who "live on so little money".

They both said they would like to go back and spend more time in Nepal, and recommended others do the programme too.

Miss Dean said they were looking forward to taking a new team of students in April 2017.

She said the children of the organisations Sunsar Maya and In Giving We Receive were looking forward to their return and the programme planned to have an exciting project for the Kiwi students to get stuck in to.

- Rotorua Daily Post

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