David Gill Feb 7, 2019
The anticipation had been building for over a year. Less than eighteen hours earlier this group of young of ladies had been in the United Kingdom, now for the first time in their lives they were stepping foot on a continent new to them. The excitement for this group had begun twelve months earlier. Now as the heat haze shimmered across the tarmac the reality of their expedition became apparent to them.
As technology brings more information and the world closer together and learning resources become more interactive, getting out of the classroom and into the world of reality becomes more important. Understanding cultures that are different from our own, seeing different environments and realizing that we are all humans living on the one planet can lead to greater interaction and breakdown of stigmatisms and barriers. Real life skills such as empathy, communication, teamwork and leadership are integral parts of an expedition alongside budgetary skills, diplomacy, negotiations. Then lessons in navigation, meteorology, mountain skills, first aid, risk management can all be applied as well.
During the month that the group spent in Malawi there were noticeable changes for the better. As the feelings of home dissipated and the expedition routine set in, the girls engaged within their community project at the local school. The challenges faced on a daily basis by the Malawian students were comparable to the UK students; however, the differences in resources stood out. The girls began to question the status quo and ideas formulated between the British and Malawian students as to how they could, as young citizens of the world, challenge these issues going into the 21st Century. Now, don’t get me wrong there were no eureka moments, there were no instant solutions. What did happen though was an exchange of ideas and hopefully, just hopefully, these students from two continents will one day remember these conversations, and just then, our world will become a little bit more balanced.
Leaving the comfort of their host community, the girls placed their rucksacks upon their backs and began the long day of trekking across the Nyika Plateau. Maps were consulted, advice gained from their Malawian Wildlife Service Guides and the footsteps began. Across undulating hills reminiscent of Scottish Highlands, the group preceded to their first camp. The skills gained during the expedition build up were put into action, campsites were prepared, food was cooked, and the group settled down for a night under the vast array of stars. Important lessons were learned the next morning following a visit from Hyenas – one stray hiking boot left outside of the tent was nibbled on.
So why should you as a parent, teacher or education establishment offer an expedition opportunity for your students? You will see a difference in your students. Engaging them outside of the classroom can provide the environment to stimulate curiosity, adventure, and develop grit and courage. Stepping out of the comfort zone gives the opportunity to grow on so many levels. We are proud to provide challenging expeditions for young people and let them experience our shared world.