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Ditching the Gold Coast for Nepal for schoolies celebrations

Ditching the Gold Coast for Nepal for schoolies celebrations

Thirty-three graduating year 12 students are ditching the traditional trip to the Gold Coast for schoolies, and are instead spending two weeks volunteering in Nepal.

This is the third year students from Orange will travel to Nepal, and the trip is organised by the Rotary Club of Orange Daybreak alongside the company Hike Himalaya Adventure.

Organiser Mary Bell said it was fantastic to see students volunteering their time.

"These kids don't want to go the Gold Coast and get drunk, they want to do something else and that's the important thing," she said.

She said the trips have a "huge impact" on the lives of the Nepalese people.

"They want them to teach English, to teach in the classroom, teaching maths, playing cricket, painting – a lot of money goes toward painting rooms over there because they're just ugh," she said.

"They're volunteering in a big way."

One of the students travelling this year, Laura Smith, said it would be a big learning curve.

"For a lot of us it's being able to help children less fortunate than we are," she said.

"My sister went two years ago and the stories she came home with and how appreciative she was of what we have," she said.

"This is our schoolies, so instead of going to the Gold Coast we're going to Nepal to help people."

Mrs Bell said returning students' stories have helped the popularity of the program explode.

"When we first started we had 15, the next year we had 17 and this year we have 33, these guys have come back and said 'you need to do this'," she said.

She said the growth students went through on the trip was phenomenal.

"These kids are all excited and enthusiastic, but within three days they'll be completely different people because they get to a third world country that's poor and they'll go 'oh my goodness'," she said.

Teacher Michelle Duncan, who is going on the 2018 trip, said it would all come together for students once they arrived.

"All the fundraising and all the training they've done it'll just click at some point while we're there and they'll have an ah-ha moment," she said.

While five schools are currently represented by students, Mrs Bell is hoping next year's crop will see the program expand to other cities in the Central West such as Dubbo and Bathurst.

Students will depart on November 15.

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