In late December last year, a group including boys from Years 10 and 11, Mr Garner, Mr Ha, Mr Parnham, and Mr Wilkins went on a tour to Nepal. The trip was a cultural exchange, with some service learning elements involved that gave boys the opportunity to experience the humble culture and stunning landscapes of Nepal.
The tour group flew into Kathmandu and had the chance to experience the eclectic artisan flea market culture and ancient buildings of the historic Bhaktapur town which is centred around an amazing Hindu Pagoda. There was no time to stall however, as the next morning boys were up before the sun to catch a domestic flight to Phaplu, a mountain town, so that we could start to trek. Of the three 15 man flights, the 30-man tour group was spread across, two were drastically late due to fog. Once we had all regathered, the group started to walk what was the hardest trek of the trip, and we didn’t stop until well past sunset due to our lateness. It was well worth making it to Tragsindho however as the next morning we awoke to our first view of the mountains. In every direction, as far as the eye could see there are peaks that stretch upwards of 6,000 metres, and in total awe the golden sunrise illuminated our upcoming day’s trek. The highlight was looking down and seeing the cloud line below, an experience I’ll never forget.
From here we trekked to Jubing, where we spent several days helping excavate earth and repaint a medical centre for the local community. Many boys used a pick axe and shovel to unearth boulders and turned this into a competitive game which was definitely one of the fun highlights of the trip. As a sign of appreciation, the local community put on a farewell ceremony in which there were traditional Nepalese dances and songs, a rendition of “Waltzing Matilda” by us in return, and a few games of cricket and skipping. It was truly humbling being welcomed into the community the way we were.
The tour made its way through the Khumbu Trekking region, famous for Everest which meant we came face to face with beautiful scenery. We stayed in Namche for a few days, a major thoroughfare town to Everest, from which we trekked to the Hidden Valley, the most beautiful village nestled between beautiful and (seemingly) impossibly high mountains on every side. The group made their way back through Lukla, which boasts the world’s most dangerous airport. This was another ‘interesting’ flight back to Kathmandu.
In Kathmandu the group were given several days to shop for souvenirs before visiting the SOS Hermann Gmeiner school. Here students from both schools exchanged cultural artefacts, gave presentations and played a one-sided soccer game. It was a rewarding and unifying experience that closed the trip.
Thanks to Mr Garner for his organisation of the trip, and for the other teachers for taking us on such an incredible and life changing journey.
Jack De Lacy (12/ME)