06 Mar 2018
Year 13 student Oscar Wilson jumped at the chance to participate in the Round Square International Service (RSIS) Big Build project in Vietnam in December 2017.
Oscar – along with 48 other students from Round Square schools in Australia, Namibia, the United Kingdom, Indonesia, Kenya, Canada and China – travelled to Mai Chau province and worked together to build two small dams, helping to improve the farming infrastructure of a small rural village in Na Mon. The new dams are designed to store water in the dry season and drain water during the monsoon season, allowing the farmers to harvest up to three times as much rice per year.
The students were billeted by local families in traditional houses built on stilts, and Oscar and six other boys shared one room in their host family’s two-bedroom house. He thoroughly enjoyed living with the family and learning about the Vietnamese way of life and was grateful for his hosts’ thoughtfulness in heating water so the boys could have a good wash. “We were the only ones given warm water to wash in. Our host parents would heat a big bowl of cold water over the fire before we came in. They were such nice people, so kind ... It was quite hard, physical work and by the end of the day we were all dirty and tired,” says Oscar.
As well as building the dams, the students also visited community farms and local schools and, at the end of the trip, had a day of rest and relaxation at Ha Long Bay.
“It was pretty awesome and I really appreciated having the opportunity to take part, to experience the real Vietnam and not just be a tourist. It’s good to think our work will make a difference to people’s lives.”
Round Square have been running RSIS projects for over 50 years. As well as helping a community in need, these projects offer a great way for young people to learn about global citizenship, community engagement, develop a deeper understanding of the world’s problems and experience a new culture.