Mandurama Public School had more students at it on Sunday morning than it has had in decades.
They weren’t all primary students though, they were a group of forty students from the University of Technology Sydney’s Big Lift program.
Travelling around NSW and Victoria for nine days, the crew of forty that visited Mandurama are only half of the numbers that are helping organisations around regional and rural areas.
President of the Big Lift, Lucy Day-Williams said that another busload of forty volunteers was close by.
“The other bus is in Wyangala and next we’re going to Whitton before we all meet up again in Finley,” she said.
Acting principal of the school Karen Brill said that the work that they were doing was amazing.
“There is one group covering some of the books in the library, there’s another group clearing out the weeds from the reserve, some creating a new garden bed and others oiling some of the outdoor furniture,” she said.
“The difference that it has made is tremendous.”
Ms Day-Williams said that the benefits go beyond the improvements made wherever they stop.
“We volunteer for four hours in the morning doing whatever it is that the community wants us to do, before moving on to the next town.
“It gives many of the international students an opportunity to step out of the classroom, and as everyone here is city born, not many have been out into regional communities and that’s a really big part of the Big Lift.”
Giving city students their first taste of regional and rural life may see many return, and not just as tourists.
“Last year we asked everyone at the end of the tour would they consider working in the country and they all said yes,” Ms Day-Williams said.
The students were not only global in their origins, but varied in their areas of expertise.
“There are some from engineering, communications, law, health and nursing and also from all different year levels, some post-grad, others just starting,” she said.
The UTS students met with a local historian, parents and students on the Saturday night before camping out in the school’s small hall.
A quick afternoon walk around the village even had the local police wondering what was going on.
“It was such an unusual sight that the local police officer had to stop and ask why there were so many people in town,” Mrs Brill said.