Aug 29, 2018

Two of our Secondary students at Green Shoots International School, Nestor and Sesame, were fortunate enough to attend a summer camp in Chiang Mai, Thailand over the summer break. This camp, however, wasn’t your traditional summer camp with the emphasis being on “having fun,” (although mammoth amounts of fun was had) but rather on “learning about living sustainably” through an entity known as Compass Education.

Off these two young gentlemen went, on their very first flight without their parents at their sides to make sure that they were catching the right planes at the correct times, and set out on a journey that would shift something deep inside themselves and benefit us all.

I’d prefer not to ramble, however, and let you hear all about it from Nestor himself.

A one-to-one with Nestor:

 

Where exactly did you head to on your adventures?

The camp was in Chiang Mai at a school but we did excursions to surrounding villages. Most of them were about an hour’s drive away from the city.

And what was the purpose of going on these excursions?

One of the excursions was visiting a school and it’s a school where all of the students are from the hill tribes and they’re students who cannot attend public schools because they don’t speak the language or aren’t born in the areas that they’re living in, so the Thai government doesn’t allow them to attend these schools. The school that we visited… all of the students sleep and eat there. We did activities with them about sustainability and they have their own farm there. They do a lot of sports too.

Wow! And who is running this programme?

I think the owner of the school is someone from England with a lot of volunteers coming from Thailand and Germany who stay there for around a year sometimes.

It’s always so beautiful to see people embrace the entire world as “my people” and don’t just focus on helping themselves and their own families, communities and countries! It’s just people helping people. This is truly inspiring.  What other excursions did you go on?

On the next trip, we went to a hill tribe and stayed there for the night. We learned about the different ways that they live sustainably and about the problems that they have to face every day.

And what kinds of problems are they facing?

Sometimes they struggle to make money, so they send their children and other members of the family to town to sell artefacts and other products that they make. But the village that we went to was very well organised. It wasn’t what I’d imagined it would be. I thought the houses would be made out of different building materials like bamboo and plastics, not bricks.  They have a proper road running through the village too, so I was pretty surprised.

Do you think this community is this well-organised because they’re receiving help or have they built this infrastructure by themselves? 

I think it’s a combination of the two. The village is on the border of a national park, and there is a very nice river so they built something that looks like small swimming pools or Jacuzzis in the river and many people come from all over Thailand to go there. They pay to use them and it seems to be their main source of income.

Great! So they’re using the resources that are in their immediate surroundings to create an income! I’m always fascinated by the ideas that come when you are forced to work with what you have access to.  So how many of you were there on this course?

There were 9 campers, so not a lot and 4 facilitators. And the facilitators are all under 18. They taught us everything we learned. And then there were 4 advisors, and they are all over 18 and professionally trained to educate the youth about this topic.

Nestor Sustainability Camp Experience

That’s a nicely-sized group! What do you think is the aim of what they are trying to achieve through running these courses?

The compass movement was created in 2010 or 2012 and their goal is to educate the youth about sustainability and leadership, and everything that is involved in these two subjects. And to make sure that the course also provides communities with this knowledge while teaching us.

How did you end up on this camp?

Mr Dave sent a newsletter to my parents and they thought that it was a really great camp to send me and looked very interesting.

It does – I mean if you’re going to send your children on a camp of sorts, there are a lot of less challenging camps that you can attend. I think it’s admirable that your parents were able to see the value in allowing you to join in this specific experience. You went with Sesame, right? What was it like having him there?

It was my first time flying without my parents so it was really good to have him with me. It’s great because they treat you like a VIP! You get off the plane first and stand first in all of the queues – hahaha.

Where were the other students from? Did you make any new friends?

I did! There were two campers from Japan, one from India, one from Thailand, Sesame and I from Vietnam, the Philippines, Indonesia.

Now you can all go back to different parts of Asia and make a difference! Was there anyone in particular that you really got along with?

The guy from Chiang Mai stayed in the same room as Sesame and I. I liked him a lot – he was a really funny guy. And there was also the girl from Japan. I also connected with the facilitators – they’re only a couple of years older than me. I’m sure I’ll see them all again.

How often do they do these camps?

Once a year, but they organise a new workshop every month. So, for example, they organised on in Bangkok and that’s where Miss Sumeika and Miss Allie went. They also organise them in Hanoi Bali and in a lot of other places.

Okay so you’re back in Vietnam, after having this magical experience and I want to know what stood out for you most about this camp?

What stood out for me was the leadership that was also one of my main motivations go on this camp. We did a lot of work on leadership skills and team building which was a lot of fun. I learned so much in these sessions.

What is going to change in the way that you live your life going forward?

 I want to stop using plastics, that’s something I definitely want to do. 

That’s one of the most important things. I think what’s really great is that you’re in a position where you can educate people about your newly acquired knowledge – even adults. Especially adults!

That’s what Sesame and I want to do. So at the start of the new school year, we want to do at least one big assembly and teach the students what we learned about. We also want to meet with the teachers so that we can incorporate all of these ideas within the classrooms.

Now we’re talking. The world can be a very strange place sometimes, in that it is the generally accepted view that if you’re older, you’re wiser and that children should be learning from adults and not the other way around. I think that this is a beautiful opportunity for you to prove that that is not the case. Maybe you could even go through everything that the two of you have learned and give the school a proposal of sorts that can be implemented? And you don’t need to limit yourself to teaching people within our school. Hoi An could use a couple of brilliant minds who want to help with the growth of the town. When you have the youth approaching adults, telling them that we NEED change and showing them how… that’s a powerful thing.

Absolutely. On the camp they also taught us how to present ideas and innovations. We also covered subjects like what the different goals of sustainable development are, so all of these things will be able to help us deliver our message.

So overall – a great experience. Would you recommend that other kids do this?

Yes, definitely.  You need to be 14 years or older to go on this camp. So hopefully I’ll be able to persuade some of my friends and other people I meet to go. I want to go back next year as a facilitator and teach what I’ve learned to the new campers.

I hope that you realise how important this journey that you’re on is. We need people like you to affect the course of history. 

I do – I want to be a diplomat so that I have a platform to deliver my message.

Well, there you go! There is a big job ahead of you and it sounds like you’re fully capable of being the change that we need in this world. Good luck on your path.

 

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For more information on Compass Education, please find them on either of the below platforms:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CompassYouthLeadership/

Website: http://www.compasseducation.org/

 

 

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