THAILAND | VIETNAM | MICRONESIA | NEPAL | ECUADOR | MEXICO

Since its foundation, The Cardoner Project has sought to engage communities overseas in undertakings that seek to express a recognition and respect for excluded and disadvantaged groups. From teaching English in Vietnamese or Thai schools, to working with families to build houses in Tijuana, Mexico; The Cardoner Project aims to build hope in the communities we encounter. In the process it is we who are transformed.

Our Immersion programme offers 2-3 week experiences of cultural exposure, hard work in basic conditions, and shared examen and reflections every day. These are profound experiences of receiving hospitality from those materially poor, yet spiritually rich.

Our Service Year programme offers school-leavers a deeper immersion in the language and culture of peoples in Northern Thailand, Micronesia and East Timor for 6-12 months, with a preference for the full year placement. In the years ahead we will expand these offerings to other places.

Our volunteers teach English language and numeracy. We prepare them as much as is possible before they go, working around the demands of the HSC.

Currently, we have we have 9 young Old Boys from the class 2014 working with Jesuits as volunteers in Thailand and Micronesia.

Projects:

  • Thailand (immersions/service year)
  • Vietnam (immersions)
  • Micronesia (service year)
  • East Timor (service year)
  • Nepal (immersions)
  • Ecuador (immersions)
  • Mexico (immersions)
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Thailand

The Cardoner Project has had volunteers in northern Thailand since 2012 as a part of The Arrupe Education Project, an initiative of Thai Jesuits.

In the mountains in the small village of Huay Tong, two hours west of Chiang Mai, boys live together in Colombiere House named after the Jesuit St Claude de la Colombiere, and teach English at different government schools during the day.

Some of these schools have 60 students, some have 600. Some receive reasonable funding while others have a few modest blackboards. The Service Year boys teach from kindergarten through to year 12, and occasionally older students as well.

The people we live with and teach are Hill tribe people, primarily Karen and Hmong ethnic groups. For them English is a third language after their local language group and Thai.

It is hard work, and the boys go without a lot of the creature comforts their mates take for granted back in Sydney, but as one who was there for a year, I can say that it is a place and time full of challenges and friendships, and spiritual growth that stays with you always.

Tim Humphreys (SAC12)

Vietnam

The Vietnam Immersion, run by The Cardoner Project, is one of the most challenging yet rewarding experiences that young Aloysius and Riverview Old Boys can undertake in their early post-high school life.

The immersion visits places such as Hanoi, St Vincent Diem Orphanage in Dong Hoi. Time is spent at the orphanage in central Vietnam, run by The Sisters of the Lovers of the Holy Cross, an order of holy nuns caring for up to 70 kids at any time. The vast majority of the children, across a range of ages, suffer from mental or physical disabilities, where time is spent feeding and playing with the children whilst also working in the potato fields or shelling peanuts.

It can be a very tough emotional struggle at the orphanage, however the looks of happiness on the children's faces everyday, as well as a greater understanding of yourself and life back home is a great reward.

The faith of the Sisters and the children is inspiring. And thanks to the young Old Boys, The Cardoner Project has been able to raise over $70,000 for the Sisters' work since 2010 which has allowed them to build a Chapel, and much-needed extensions to their rooms for the children with the most severe disabilities.

Overall, the immersion is an amazing, fun opportunity to experience a new culture and the hardships faced around the world, while also reflecting on yourself and the life you live.

Cameron Gray (SAC12)

Micronesia

The Micronesia Service Year provides a fantastic opportunity for those seeking a thorough cultural immersion and volunteer experience. Successful applicants will spend 12 months in the village of Sapuk, on the island of Weno located within the stunning Chuuk Lagoon.

Volunteers work with Xavier High School, a Jesuit school dubbed 'the Harvard of the Pacific'. They also work alongside a small network of volunteers of many nationalities. Through the high school's outreach program, The Cardoner Project volunteers work on strengthening community ties, primarily by teaching full time in the local village, but also by involving themselves with cultural activities and living with local families.

The living conditions lack certain creature comforts, and can at times be extremely isolating. Yet with an open and constructive mindset, volunteers can make the most of an incredible learning experience, leaving a positive impact on the lives of the locals less fortunate than us.

Alex Smith (SAC12)

Nepal

The Cardoner Project's Nepal Immersion typically runs in December of each year, designed to give recent Jesuit-educated Old Boys a deeper appreciation for the often misunderstood cultural and religious issues in Nepal. Extensive trekking in the Himalayas and a variety of service and cultural activities in Kathmandu promote reflection.

The Immersion is divided into two components with each night spent with the generous hospitality of locals in tiny villages, wherein participant stay in basic accommodation known as tea lodges. The daily reflections and prayer, small group sizes, and alpine park views spark deep, spiritual conversation and a sense of solidarity between the boys and the leaders.

Thus, the Nepal Immersion is an intense and moving experience. One is exposed to the ins and outs of a highly unique culture; beautiful, awe-inspiring scenery and ultimately the huge difference in the way people live their lives across the world.

Max Sturt (SAC13)

Ecuador

When the opportunity of travelling to Ecuador first presented itself to me, I thought what an obscure place to go. To me it seemed like such a far off exotic land tucked away in the northwest corner of South America squished between the Pacific Ocean, Columbia and Peru.

We spent our time in Quito, the nations capital, which amazingly was at 2800 metres above sea level and situated in the Andes. The real satisfaction and wonder of the trip came from the people that we both worked for and with.

his immersion experience will no doubt have a lasting effect on us boys due to the support of The Cardoner Project and the opportunity that was presented to us. I would encourage anyone who is offered with such an opportunity to take it.

Personally I found it encouraged personal growth and gave perspective into a completely foreign culture.

Tom Masi (SIC13)

Mexico

Across the Pacific Ocean lies the city of Tijuana in northern Mexico. Tijuana's location on the United States-Mexico border makes it the perfect location to witness the juxtaposition between these two countries.

The immersion programme really begins upon entering Tijuana through the San Ysidro border crossing, the busiest international land crossing in the world. This experience of 'walking' into the third-world is deepened by a visit to the fence that separates the two countries.

The majority of the immersion takes place with Esperanza International, building houses for the poor. Every evening a group examen and reflection on the day, deepens the whole experience. This organisation does more than just build houses; it gives hope to the people of Tijuana.

While in Tijuana the participant spend their time on the worksite doing a variety of tasks. The immersion highlights the injustice of Tijuana's situation, but also reveals the love and compassion of the people who run these organisations, and who strive everyday to make their city a better place.

Daniel Rubic (SIC11)

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