After three years of extensive fundraising, the students at Tuakau College have returned from an ‘experience of a lifetime’ in Europe.
Once every three years, the local high school offers an overseas adventure to its students, with this year’s destination seeing them visit Italy, France, Germany and Dubai.
The 64 students and 39 staff and parents embarked on their journey in late September, which saw them fit four weeks’ worth of travelling and sight-seeing into 16 days.
Beginning in Rome and finishing in Dubai, Principal Chris Betty said the students were completely ‘blown away’ by the history and age of the towns that they visited.
“Several found it hard to comprehend that some buildings were established before Christ. We got to see plenty of tourist attractions like the Vatican, the Colosseum, and Leaning Tower of Pisa which were amazing. We also saw the bad side of tourism. We had a bag stolen from a hotel foyer when we were in Italy, right in front of us. We thought we were very vigilant, but we didn’t let that incident put a dampener on the trip.”
While many stated that there were too many options to choose a favourite, a highlight that stood out for the students was visiting the graves of the New Zealand Commonwealth servicemen in Padua, Italy.
“I had an uncle who was one of the many men who fought to free Italy, and was buried there. I didn’t know where he lay, and our students made it their mission to find him,” said Mr Betty.
The students found his grave, and also held a ceremony to pay their respects to the fallen servicemen. A karakia was sung before students performed the haka, they then laid a wreath and 106 poppies that were crocheted by a staff member and parents on the servicemen’s gravestones.
Another highlight of the trip was being able to visit fellow exchange student, Jessica Schumacher, in her hometown in Germany.
While parents and teachers were placed in a hostel, students were billeted into homes for their stay in Speichersdorf, which saw them expereince every day German life.
“The whole town accommodated us, it was just incredible. We all enjoyed interacting with WWG Bayreuth Highschool and learning their culture, while we taught some of ours, including our school song and the haka.”
This is the fifth overseas trip Mr Betty has completed with the school, and says the students, again, are testament to their families and the College.
“Not once did I hear anyone complain or say this was boring. We had spent the last three years fundraising for this, and I extend a heart-felt thank you to our community and committee for their continued support to help make it happen. These overseas experiences open up the world to our students, especially to those who have never been on a plane, and may never travel again.”
The group returned a short two weeks ago and planning is now well underway for the next trip, however, the destination hasn’t been confirmed.