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THE AGE • MONDAY, APRIL 19, 2010
HOW would you like to spend schoolies at a
restaurant in Hanoi that teaches hospitality to
homeless kids? Your job would be to plant trees
and paint the building. Or perhaps you'd like
to help the women in another village with their
vegie garden, or read to school children.
In the process you'd learn about a new
culture, make friends and make a difference
These are some of the options if you are
lucky enough to join the Moyne Council and
Port Fairy Rotary Club project, Alternative
The project is the initiative of Moyne
Community and Corporate Support Director,
Steve Dawkins. Steve had travelled widely
in Asia and East Timor and was in Vietnam
last year when he came across a group
of Australian students who had paid "an
exorbitant price" to take part in a similar
project organised by a commercial company.
community project in Moyne Shire."
Between 12 and 15 young people will be
invited to take part in Alternative Schoolies.
"We're going to be turning people away," Steve
says. The group will hold fundraising activities
throughout the year to pay for the trip, with
participants paying for any shortfall. "So if
we raise $20,000 and it costs $25,000 to go,
then individuals will pay the $5000 between
Moyne Council is just one of several
organisations seeking to offer young people
an alternative from the usual alcohol-fuelled
spree that schoolies has come to mean for
Inspired by Kerang Rotary Club's trip for
schoolies to Cambodia in 2007, the Rotary
Club of Kalamunda in Western Australia,
and Youth Action Kalamunda, took 17 school
leaders to East Timor last year to work on
community projects in the village of Triloka.
The trips were designed to provide
students with new life skills, while
encouraging them to become global citizens
and make a difference in the world.
Young people are also initiating their
own alternatives. Asha Jois, 18, who is now
studying medicine at Monash, says "While
schoolies does have its upsides, most of
the stories I got from my friends (while
humorous), were pretty humiliating, and the
majority of what they did, they regretted."
Instead, Asha went to India for a month.
"It not only took my mind off the looming
ENTER score revelation, but I got to have a
fascinating glimpse of a completely different
culture in a country I didn't know much about.
All of this without hangovers or regrets."
groups also offer
alcohol and drug-free fun as an
alternative to schoolies. Scripture Union, an
interdenominational Christian group, offers
trips to the Whitsundays, New Zealand, Tonga
or Thailand, with prices ranging from $435 for
the Sunshine Coast trip to $2295 for the New
Zealand and Thailand trips.
Chill Out, another Christian group,
working in conjunction with Scripture Union,
offers trips to Fiji, New Zealand, Borneo and
Europe. Trips are led by accredited youth
leaders and cost from $1305 to $4950.
But what if you want to go God-free as
well as alcohol and drug- free? Or, even just
free? Then do
as Emily Cohen
did and borrow
(or a friend's)
beach house on
"We had a great
time and still managed
to celebrate the end
of school together
responsibly and amicably.
"We went to the beach every day, did not
go clubbing at all, slept in and played board
games. In fact my friends and I spent most of
the week reading and watching DVDs.
"Alcohol was not a huge factor in the week.
One of my friends wasn't allowed to come if
we had alcohol on the premises and everyone
respected this fact. We took the local bus to
town on many occasions and had dinner out
a few times."
If you are looking for fun
without the idiot factor,
read on, says
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