Lachie's South American adventure - Lachie Davidson
Lachie Davidson in Brazil looking over towards Rio. Photo suppliedA year ago, Lachie Davidson was playing paintball at the abandoned lake house of Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar.
Go back a year before that and the head boy at Ashburton College in 2015 was wondering what he would do with his life. While university study was somewhere on the horizon, he opted for a gap year working in South America with the international volunteer organisation Lattitude.
Davidson, who turns 20 in November, managed to learn some basic Spanish in what was a busy Year 13 as a school leader and enthusiastic member of Green house.
He played at lock for the First XV, played basketball and volleyball, he was a rower in his earlier years. His favourite sporting memory is when the Ashcoll under 15 rugby team beat St Andrew’s in the final of their South Island tournament – teachers and coaches Mike O’Callaghan and Pete Fougere had booked the team into a Christian camp near Pleasant Point for the duration of the tournament, and there was no cellphone coverage.
Davidson remembers the haka that preceded the final against the private school and the jubilation that followed the win. Rugby was at its peak at the school about then, with the First XV making it to Rotorua for a top-four playoff with New Zealand’s best co-ed school teams.
It was rugby that helped him make friends in Ecuador last year and at Massey University this year, where he played for the university’s colts team until being sidelined with injury.
He says his volunteer stint in Ecuador and Argentina was life-changing and has ignited a passion to travel again. As a volunteer he worked in a special needs school, and in primary and high schools in the continent, helping students improve their English skills. Along the way he has picked up a love of South American languages, culture and food … and a moustache that he stubbornly refuses to shave off.
The trip also exposed him to the extremes of poverty and generosity, both to the fore in the aftermath of the 7.8 earthquake that struck Ecuador while he was there. Davidson and a group of Lattitude students made their way to an aid station where they helped co-ordinate and sort quake donations.
Davidson said he was also lucky to visit the Galapagos Islands and be a proud Kiwi supporter at a rugby test between the All Blacks and Argentina.
He said the gap year had given him a mental break and he was enjoying this year studying towards a Bachelor of AgriCommerce, majoring in international agribusiness.
He has fond memories of his years at Ashcoll, especially his final year.
He says he was lucky to have Jason Vannini as his form teacher from Year 9 to Year 13 and counts him as a friend. Ag teacher Steven Millichamp also fostered the seed for a career in agriculture (and was rewarded by finding a goat in his classroom on the final day of that school year), while he also credits teachers Claire Tappin, Michael Clark and Denise O’Halloran for other good memories.
The college afforded plenty of opportunities, he said, and helped him prepare him for the wide world beyond.
By Linda Clarke © AshColl Alumni - 17 July 2017