With the passage of time, some people may have forgotten about the victims of the Asian tsunami. But the tragedy has changed the outlook of 11 students from Li Po Chun United World College of Hong Kong who visited a Sri Lankan town devastated by the killer waves. 'Watching the news on television and visiting the place are completely different things,' said Tracy Shum, 19. 'The psychological impact is much greater if you are actually there.' Together with 10 students and a teacher, Tracy - a Hong Kong resident - visited the southern town of Matara from February 26 to March 5. The trip was suggested by her Sri Lankan schoolmate, Ishani Premathilaka, 18. Although her family and friends living in the capital, Colombo, were not affected by the tsunami, Ishani was determined to help the victims. Her idea was used as one of the topics for the school's Project Week. Students who take part in the annual activity organised by the college - which has 250 secondary students from more than 60 countries - help the needy or go on challenging or educational tours. 'I knew it would be a very meaningful project, which involved travelling as well as helping people,' said Tracy. The students who went on the trip were from different countries, including Japan, the Netherlands, the Philippines and Thailand. They helped to rebuild a primary school during their week in Matara. The school had 80 pupils. Some lost their parents and siblings to the tsunami, while others' homes and belongings were washed away by the waves. The teenagers provided much-needed assistance to the school and the students. They organised fun activities for the children and brought a smile to their face. They cleared the school grounds, painted the walls, repaired the desks and chairs, installed electric fans, designed a new name board, put up curtains and repaired sports facilities. They also gave out new school uniforms, sports equipment, stationery and toys which they bought with funds raised in Hong Kong, and they set up a library with a donation of books. 'We played games and chatted with the children. We wanted them to know that people care about them. We wanted to help ease the pain of losing their loved ones,' Tracy said. 'The trip inspired me and changed my life. I want to continue to help those in need.'