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An IT course for adventure

TAFE NSW students set up computer networks and solar panels in Vanuatu.

An IT course for adventure

Old school meets new school

The white sand and crystal blue waters of Vanuatu were again classrooms for TAFE NSW Information Technology students in 2019.

Students of TAFE NSW ICT courses are back from the tropics, where they installed a solar-powered generation system and 10 low-powered computers at a school in Espiritu Santo, Vanuatu. The project is an on-going partnership between TAFE NSW and Upper Blue Mountains Rotary Club.


Getting real experience

It was all there: lagoons teeming with tropical fish, the amazing food and sights, wonderful exchanges with locals. There were long journeys by light planes, small boats and stretches of rough terrain traversed in well-loved vehicles. There was also plenty of work to do!

For the students the project involved:

  • Assisting with the installation of the solar panels and system
  • Installing low-powered computers
  • Instructing locals and students in how to use the computers and applications
  • Troubleshooting and fixing computer problems at schools

Student Corey Thomas describes the trip as “a humbling experience”.

“I am privileged to have been able to experience this,” says Corey. “The community, the mesmerized looks on the children’s faces, the interaction, the installation and, above all else, the beautiful scenery!”


Learning about learning

Ben Clowes backs up Corey’s assessment: “It was an amazing experience,” says Ben. “All the people I met were incredibly enthusiastic about learning whatever I could teach them; and teaching me a thing or two in turn.”

Meanwhile, Jamie Kemp used the trip to fine-tune his career and education goals.

"I learned that my knowledge of IT systems and programs – like Word and Excel – are lacking and need to be fixed,” says Jamie. “Most of these require more time spent learning different projects and from tutorials.

“I learned that knowledge of wiring, welding would be beneficial. It’s one thing to scan for viruses, but to be able to fix a cable that rats have been chewing on is also pretty useful!

“I learned teaching requires more than just knowing the information but relaying that information in a way that others can understand. Then assessing if the information was received through observation and questions.”


Meet the locals

Student Peter Dalton’s favourite memories are his interactions with locals, particularly the children.

“After we had eaten lunch,” says Peter, “some little kids, maybe five or six years old, gathered about 30 metres away by a tree. Maybe 20 of them.

“By nothing more than ‘dares’ they edged closer and closer to us with our backs turned. Stopping instantly if they knew we were looking.

“Two boys got within three or four metres at one point and 'bam'! One of the two shoved the other forward a good metre with the biggest grin you ever did see.

“Panic ensued as realisation flashed across the young boy’s face! We were facing towards them! And he was far, far too close for comfort! LOL. He turned and bolted back into the pack,” says Peter.


Left as a group and came back as a team

Peter says another unseen benefit of the trip was watching the TAFE NSW students – many with different backgrounds and experience – really come together as a team. “It was quite simply a good, decent group of people, who were all there for the right reasons.

“So a big thank you to all who attended and all those involved in organising such a fantastic trip. It was something I will never forget.”

The students’ adventure to Mwast Primary School, Espirito Santo, Vanuatu was partly funded by the Federal Department of Education’s Endeavour Mobility Grant (airfares and part of accommodation costs).

The team is also partnered by the Department of Education on Santo through Harkuk Voccor.


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