Third and TY students were recently presented with an exciting opportunity, the possibility of spending Easter break, 2016 on a World Challenge expedition to Vietnam. If you are one of those students trying to decide if this is for you, take a look at what a previous ‘Challenger’ Laura Emmo, 5th Yr, wrote about her experience in Ethiopia last year…………………
During the two weeks of the Easter holidays thirteen students and two teachers travelled to Ethiopia. While we were there we visited a local school, trekked in the Simien Mountains and travelled around this fascinating country. After a nine hour journey including a stopover in Istanbul, our team arrived in Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia. Upon arrival we ended up sleeping outside the airport until airport officials allowed us inside where we then slept on the floor until it was time for our flight to Gondar, North Ethiopia. We arrived at Gondar airport, which was very small. There, taxis were waiting to bring us to our first nights’ accommodation, the Queen Taitu. The following morning we travelled the short distance to the local school (Kebele) where we stayed for the next four days, moving rocks and rubbish, sanding and painting tables and decorating classrooms with educational pictures. We also paid for a fence to be built to secure the school grounds. We ended our stay with a wonderful afternoon of football using the newly built goal posts and meeting lots of students and people from the local area. This was both an enjoyable and tiring few days where we got to experience many new things outside of our comfort zones including teaching the children, learning about Ethiopian culture, and cooking outside in a thunder storm (imagine trying to keep that fire lit!) to mention but a few. We then moved on to the trekking phase of our expedition, driving north towards the Simien Mountains with our guides, cooks and scouts. We were already beginning to see the spectacular views the Simien Mountains have to offer. We completed a three day trek to the altitude of almost half Mount Everest. Whilst in the mountains, we attended a traditional coffee ceremony in one of the locals’ dwellings. The trek was tough but the natural beauty all around us and the feeling when we made it to the top, made it so worthwhile. Returning to Gondar the following day, we stayed there one last night before continuing on to Bahir Dar, a ten hour bus journey away. In Bahir Dar, we visited the tourist spots including the local markets as well as visiting the Blue Nile Falls and some of the beautiful, colourful monasteries in the area. We also went in search of hippos on a Lake Tana boat trip. We spent our last night in Addis Ababa, the bustling capital city of Ethiopia, where we treated ourselves to a celebratory dinner in a famous Ethiopian restaurant. After that we left for the airport to return home, happy, grateful, tired and full of stories and experiences that couldn’t wait to be shared. We are all extremely thankful for this truly unforgettable, once in a lifetime experience we have been given and we would like to thank everyone who helped us make this expedition possible. Below is a photograph of a classroom in Kebele School, Gondar, and the expedition team in the Simien Mountains.