The College has been running exciting overseas expeditions with Outlook Expeditions, the leading independent provider of youth and school expeditions, for a number of years. Expeditions consist broadly of three phases: trekking, community project work and recreational activities, all of which the students choose from a variety of options. The emphasis is on challenging students to take responsibility for the planning of their trip, as well as broadening their understanding of other cultures. In July, seven second year students travelled to Mongolia accompanied by Richard Henderson, the College’s Outlook Expeditions Co-Ordinator. He sums up the trip below:
What do you think of when someone mentions Mongolia? Wide open spaces and grassy steppes? Herds of wild horses and herders with incredible horsemanship? People living in yurts? (They call them gers in Mongolia). People dressed in colourful costumes?
All of these things (and more) we saw on our three week expedition in July. It really does have a “big sky” which we experienced on a six day trek in the foothills of the Khangai mountains in the centre of the country. Pine forests, rolling hills and amazing wildflower meadows; we felt like extras in the Sound of Music. Fantastic hospitality including singing round the campfire at night and invitations to sample fermented mares’ milk (definitely an acquired taste!!).
After a well earned soak in the hot springs at the end of our trek it was back to Ulan Bataar for a week helping out in a childrens’ daycare centre on the outskirts of the city. This provides care for up to 150 disadvantaged children and young people from kindergarten up to 18. There is a wide range of activities both physical and in the classroom and they are guaranteed two hot meals a day. Our students were brilliant at interacting with the youngsters in all sorts of ways and we also provided some practical help in repairing and renewing a fence around the site.
The final few days were spent horse-trekking - an experience which was fantastic for most - lots more wide open spaces but a little uncomfortable for one or two of us. Despite an unscheduled night sleeping on the floor in Istanbul airport on the way home, Mongolia will linger long in the memory as an experience of a culture so different from ours.