Since September 2011, two groups of students have been working towards an expedition to Nepal by fundraising, improving their fitness and teambuilding, including a training weekend on the South Downs.
The expedition itself was led by the students, who took responsibility for much of the decision making and ran the expedition budget. Team members showed high levels of diplomacy and sophisticated negotiating skills when faced with tough decisions.
Alongside the fantastic experiences that Nepal offered, both teams also faced challenges and these were overcome through excellent teamwork and support for each other. Everyone who took part has been touched by the experience and has learnt lessons to apply to their lives back here in the UK.The trip consisted of extreme trekking, local sightseeing, riding elephants on safari and many more inspiring activities. The group experienced a vastly different culture to what many had ever witnessed before and all were deeply amazed by the beauty of the country.
Caroline Booth, a student on the trip, said: “We spent the first night in Kathmandu and then moved on to Pokhara which was near the beginning of our trek. This was one of my favourite places and such a contrast to Kathmandu. We watched the sunset over the most beautiful lake with the Himalayas as the backdrop; it was a breathtaking and amazing start to the trek phase.”
The group then spent five days trekking up the mountains which included Poon Hill, standing an impressive 3210m high. Alice Godman said: “The highlight for me was the trekking. The physical challenge pushed both my body and mind, making me stronger and more deserving of each delicious dal bhat (curry, rice, naan and spicy pickle) at the end of each day. Up in the foothills of the mountains the culture was incredibly different.The people, mainly Buddhist, spent their days farming, cooking and gathering resources to not only sustain themselves, but cater for the tourists that passed through their villages in a constant stream. We met some incredibly friendly people, spoke in shoddy Nepalese to children, and gave out as many pens, notebooks, toothbrushes and simple toys as possible during the five short days of our trek.”
The elephant safari came next at Chitwan National Park and allowed riders to get close to wildlife and see rhino, eagle, deer and monkeys. Here they also travelled down a large river by canoe and enjoyed watching crocodiles in their natural habitat.
Josh Grant, another student on the trip, said: “Having the opportunity to sit on the back of an elephant in a river and be sprayed with water, and then have the elephant throw you into the water was definitely something I will never forget. I will also never forget the canoe ride, but this may be due to the fact that a crocodile decided to swim under our little wooden boat!”
The trip came to a close after a visit to Monkey Temple to witness the Buddhist religion, Durbar Square, a bit more sightseeing and a spot of shopping for local souvenirs.Josh added: “There are so many more great stories to tell, but I think the thing that made the whole experience worthwhile was the fact that I have met some amazing people, and got to share my highs and lows with them. Our group really got on so well with each other, and I feel privileged to have met them.”
One of the most humbling aspects of the trip was seeing how different people’s lives were in Nepal, and appreciating that people who have so little can still be incredibly generous and welcoming. In terms of cultural awareness, personal development, teamwork and building friendships the expedition certainly ticked all the boxes.
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