Youth Voice – Youth can learn more from overseas travel


GROWING up and having always lived in Ohope with the quiet roads, the long golden beach and being able to do whatever makes for quite a shock when you locate yourself in a completely different country.

One where you find yourself walking on the edge of the road, dodging the oncoming traffic of motorbikes, with the smell of broth being made on the sidewalks amidst the parked vehicles.

By the time you return to the hotel, your jandal-clad feet are now a shade of blackish grey.

This is Vietnam.

Vietnam is unlike anything I have experienced before.

After swapping a small coastal town of just under 3000 residents, who use the beach as the main access way to reach the local shop, it’s a shock to navigate the streets of places such as the city of Saigon, formerly Ho Chi Minh, which are shared with 13 million people and 10 million motorbikes.

With similar land mass as New Zealand, Vietnam is home to just under 100 million people, while New Zealand has just over four million.

Spending 15 days travelling the length of the country with my family and a group of individuals from all around the world, we noticed the differences in Vietnam’s own culture as well as each location’s own specialities.

The adventure began in Hanoi where we were able to acclimatise to the heat and investigate the local food.

Then we were off on our journey to experience the local culture and tradition of Da Bac, see the temples in Hue, update our wardrobes in the tailoring capital of Hoi, venture along the mighty Mekong River before ending our trip by getting lost in the streets of Saigon.

The opportunity for youth to travel abroad, whether it be a part of a school organisation or a family adventure, should be looked upon as a positive.

Young people are able to get away from familiar surroundings, and enrich their knowledge of other countries, cultures, religions and languages.

The opportunity for youth to experience a place away from home enables them to learn more.

Youth are also able to recognise the impact that New Zealand has across the globe and see first-hand the work some organisations are doing to help other countries to become more modern and safer.

My recent adventure has enabled me to see another perspective and improve my understanding of the modern world.

Shannon Hutching-Bell
Whakatane High School