The Tsunami Student Tour has been a life-changing experience for the participants of the EI Tsunami Student Tour to Aceh, Indonesia, from 19-24 February 2007. Below is a summary of the feedback they gave EI after returning from the tour.
Evelyn Zuiderwijk, student from the Netherlands: When I visited the schools, it was like a dream: to face the children, it was wonderful. I had tears in my eyes. I can say that it changed my life.
Martin Jones, student from the UK: This tour has been a life changing experience
Hue Huynh, student from Australia: There are no words for describing the last few days. To visit the schools and students has been mind blowing and to see how different it is from watching it on TV.
Suzanne Nantcurvis, teacher from Wales, UK: I have never lived an experience like this before. The first word to describe it is "sad". Second is "humbled". Third is "inspired", inspired when I see Jerome Fernandez and Aloysius Mathews, two men who made a difference. It is truly remarkable. The wonderful schools and work EI is doing give hope as these schools built the future. I will go not as sad as when I arrived but proud and full of hope and inspired to get more involved in this work. This tour has shown me the importance of trade unionism. I am proud that the biggest trade unions in the UK have been part of the donations to the Tsunami programme.
Phuoc Huynh, student from Australia: People have to move on, and to remember. They were happy to see us. Language is a barrier, but with gestures, we know that they were very happy. It was really good.
Natsuko Kaneda, student from Japan: This trip has been very exciting, especially to see all the smiling children and to hear the story of the Tsunami. It was very important for me to talk about the Kobe Earthquake and to share the experience.
Angela Jones, student from the UK: I was really touched by the stories of the students about the tsunami. When I will go back to the UK, I will share my experience by doing a presentation to the rest of the school.
Arthur den Boer, student from the Netherlands: Before leaving I looked for information on the Tsunami on the Internet. But all I found were old articles. It was very emotional and shocking then to drive around Aceh for the first time and to see how people still live after two years. I learned so much about the whole situation.
Daniel Sykes, student from the UK: This has been the best week of my life so far and the most wonderful experience.
Amanda Deelen, student from the Netherlands: If there is a big change from what I saw on TV two years ago, it is because of you, Jerome Fernandez and Aloysius Mathews. You are two heroes for us. The schools are beautiful. I will tell everybody to give money.
Christine Blower, Deputy General Secretary of the National Union of Teachers (NUT), UK: I was astonished and delighted to see that the EI Project is so well on target: 16 of the proposed 28 schools finished, furnished and functioning. Not many organisations have come anywhere near getting on so well. It will be my job to make sure that all of my colleagues understand that what is being done here is union work. Of course many members will say that it isn’t the job of trade unions to build schools and they would usually be right. But in extraordinary circumstances, extraordinary measures have to be taken. Teacher trade unionists internationally can be very proud of what is being done through EI in their name. I know I am.
Jerome Fernandez, Co-ordinator of the EI-Novib Tsunami Reconstruction Programme, Aceh Project Office: I had a bad feeling about the students’ visit from the West in the beginning. But these students here proved me wrong. If these are the type of students that come to Aceh I want to see more of them here. You are interacting with the kids, not in a snobbish but very natural and open way. Three headmasters called me to ask the students to come back.
Aloysius Mathews, Chief Regional Co-ordinator, EI Asia-Pacific Regional Office: The young reacting with the young of Aceh reminded me of a song: "We are the world, we are the children". We came here not only to help but to make a better world. You are the ambassadors to go back to your world to share your experience. Many go back as different persons and with different perspectives. The future are the Young.
Please click here for the personal reflections of the tour contained in the article written by Australian students, Phuoc Huynh and Hue Huynh, and their teacher Glenn Hokin.