In October 2017, students from Years 10, 11, 12 and 13 took part in school expedition programme with World Challenge to Kerala, South India.
The students (challengers) were responsible for all aspects of the trip, from fundraising for the local project, to managing the daily budgets for hotels, food and travel; developing their leadership, teamwork and decision-making skills.
The trip was broken down into four phases; Acclimatization, Project, Trek, Rest & Relaxation.
During the acclimatization phase the students completed tasks such as buying a local mobile phone, exchanging money, confirming bookings and working together to plan the itinerary for the all important Rest & Relaxation phase! Roles were assigned and accountants were selected to manage the budget – leaving the group leaders with very little to do.
The Project Phase offered a unique opportunity for the students to immerse themselves into the local community; rising early and travelling by public transport to a small school on the other side of town, the students were tasked with completing a project to build a kitchen at a local school. Earlier in the year other teams had laid the foundations and erected the building and our students were tasked with installing windows and doors, plastering, chiselling and supporting with the tiling of floors and walls. Students project-managed every aspect of this, employing labourers from the local community to advise and train the students (and add the finishing touches), sourcing materials and negotiating prices and rates with shopkeepers and tradesmen.
In addition to the work carried out on the kitchen and with funds raised by our students they were able to buy and pay for the installation of five ceiling fans and purchase much needed pens, paper and other ‘luxury’ items.
When not labouring on the project our students were teaching in the classrooms, playing sport in the playground and teaching the children games such as “Whats the time Mr Wolf” and the Okey Cokey. At the end of phase we were all sad to leave the students but were filled with a sense of pride that the work we had done would make a long-term difference to the school and its students.
Whilst physically challenging, the Project Phase offered the students the opportunity to explore the beautiful hills of Munnar in the Western Ghats, trekking through the tea and spice plantations for which Kerala is famous for. Accompanied by porters and cooks the students pulled together as a team to ensure everyone made it back to base camp each evening, surviving the blood-sucking leeches and wild elephants which roamed nearby.
At the end of an exhausting ten days the team allowed themselves a little luxury relaxing on a houseboat as they explored the lakes and canals of the Kerala backwaters and relaxing in the warm Arabian Sea by the beaches of Mararikulam.