STUDENTS are supporting communities in Vietnam following an inspiring visit to Southeast Asia.

A group of 15 Health and Social Care learners from Coleg Cambria Deeside spent two weeks living and contributing to community engagement programmes in the country.

The Level 2 and Level 3 cohort supported women at a social support centre and students at local primary schools, delivering workshops on conversational English and sharing the Welsh language.

The trip was organised in partnership with Challenges Abroad, which delivers and leads ethical adventures for young people all over the world, with funding provided by the UK Government Department of Education’s Turing Scheme.

Lisa Radcliffe, Assistant Principal for Technical Studies at Deeside, said this “incredible opportunity” will lead to a long-standing relationship between the college and the communities they visited in areas including Ho Chi Minh and Mekong Delta.

“We are working with Challenges Abroad to provide our learners with experiences that will give them the tools to go forward and be successful in their careers while developing into global citizens that can really make a difference,” said Lisa.

“They would never get to do that as part of a standard curriculum, but in Technical Studies especially we are looking more at internationalisation and really opening their eyes to the world.

“Cambria was the first college to participate on the Challenges Abroad Vietnam pilot programme, so it was a huge privilege.”

She added: “Our time there, especially at the women’s centre, was a real eye opener. This programme will continue to develop and introduce vital life skills to help these women become more independent and hopefully go on and have families and careers of their own.

“For the learners it was very emotional but also built their confidence and showed them another side to health and social care.

“Like me they want to continue to support the FutureSense Foundation and enable women to grow, move on and live independent lives, so by teaching them a wide range of skills from crafts and painting to cooking and budgeting we can start to have an impact.”

Lisa revealed many of the women spoke perfect English but due to being estranged from their families, displaced, or having no guarantor to support them, they had nowhere else to go.

“It was unbelievable and heart breaking, but the projects on the ground overseas will enable beneficiaries to develop the skills they need to become employable, to have a good level of education, good health and be able to prosper,” she said.

“Long-term this will be a legacy for the students, this trip will have meant something, and they are already more grateful for the lives and opportunities they have.

“What they have experienced will only strengthen their journey going forward as social workers, nurses or whatever they decide to do in the future.”

Vice Principal of Technical Studies Vicky Edwards added: “Life-changing trips like this are a major USP (unique selling point) not only for the course but also the college.

“To be a part of a programme that will have such a positive effect on these women and their community is very special.

“I’m sure it will have a lasting impact on the learners but also help them to become even more resilient, more confident and prepare them for many different scenarios and challenges in their careers.”

A spokesperson from Challenges Abroad said: “It has been fantastic to work with Coleg Cambria and Colleges Wales on this pilot programme in Vietnam.

“These opportunities are mutually beneficial for both the students and the communities we support.

“We are very much looking forward to developing the international opportunities available to Cambria students and see the impact they continue to make around the world, whilst developing vital skills and becoming active global citizens.”

Visit www.cambria.ac.uk for the latest news and information from Coleg Cambria.

For more on Challenges Abroad, visit www.challengesabroad.co.uk.