Solomons rewarding challenge
By NEELIMA CHOAHAN
WHEN English teacher Ted Stone signed up as a volunteer for the Solomon Islands he didn't expect his students to arrive at school in a dugout canoe. But then everything about his island experience was fairly different.
"It was like stepping back in time," Mr Stone said.
"There was no phone, electricity, hot showers, television or computers - all the things we take for granted."
However, he found what the islanders lacked in material goods they more than made up for in attitude.
"To see people with nothing that are so happy is very humbling," he said.
"It changed my perspective on what was important."
The Kingscliff-based teacher worked from 1994-1995 at Beulah Provincial Secondary School at Munda in the Western Province.
Calling the experience reward- ing, Mr Stone said he would recommend it to anyone who wanted to try it.
"It was very empowering to know I could make a difference in the lives of other people," he said. "They want to learn, and if you are able to help them do that then it is a wonderful feeling."
The students' respectful attitude towards teachers and elders was another thing that he found remarkable.
"They don't have access to education so they cherish it more," he said.
Mr Stone is one of the approximately 20 people on the Tweed Coast and 1358 in NSW who have volunteered for various jobs around the world in the past few years.
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