Learning experiences outside of the classroom are a crucial part of the College’s educational philosophy. Whether visiting a Shanghai museum, trekking through the jungles of Borneo or competing with teammates in a sports tour in the UK, we believe in the value of giving pupils opportunities to explore, learn and grow beyond the college campus. Senior School expeditions are an essential and expanding element of this and thanks to the tireless efforts of our staff and a growing partnership with the JUMP! foundation, pupils were able to access three incredible China-based expeditions in the 2018 summer term to close out the 2017-2018 academic year.
The Yunnan expedition was a significant physical challenge as well as cultural exploration of China, as pupils hiked, climbed and cycled across some truly gorgeous mountainous terrain. The 3-day expedition to Tongzhou explored China’s beautiful rural scenery, with an environmentally-focused “Planetwalk” element. Lastly, the year 10 pupils travelling to Cuandiaxia, a rice-growing area north of Beijing, took on the physical, mental and logistical challenges of the internationally respected Duke of Edinburgh Award.
Here’s what our intrepid summer adventurers had to say about their expedition experience:
Appreciating nature in Tongzhou
“I think my favourite part of the Tongzhou trip was the Planetwalk that we did in imitation of the work of environmentalist John Francis. We took a walk around the island in silence, thinking about our lives and how we can live peacefully alongside nature. It was really beautiful and peaceful. It made me think about the importance of switching off, having no phones or screens to look at, even if it’s only for a short while.”
Clara, year 10
“It was a real eye-opener. I’m not usually one to jump straight into this kind of thing so I’m glad I did it, as I came away with a good sense of accomplishment. I’d not tried my hand at kayaking properly before and I ended up really enjoying it. The three days of great scenery, good company and fun activities went by very quickly!”
Tom, year 11
Conquering the DofE Bronze in Cuandiaxia
“It was unlike any other trip I’ve ever been on. Planning, preparing and then actually hiking 16km per day across varying terrain was a seriously tough challenge but we all felt a great deal of satisfaction once we’d finished. For me, the teamwork element was the best part of the expedition, as we had to stick together, maintain our pace and support one another to make it through to the end. A tough trip, but totally worth it!”
Owen, year 11
Investigating China’s cultural diversity in Yunnan
“We had such an incredible time learning about other elements of Chinese culture as well as seeing our peers in a different light. I think the scariest yet most rewarding part for me was the Via Ferrata (Iron Path) climbing activity – it certainly helped us forge closer bonds of friendship! It was refreshing to see our teachers in different light too, not just as authority figures but in a more fun and informal context.”
Lydia, year 13
“I was blown away by how beautiful different cultures can be. The local people were incredibly friendly and eager to share their story with us. The whole trip was a very special experience and I was glad to have shared it with friends in my own year group as well as the younger years.”
Isabella, year 13
“It was fascinating to learn about the culture of various Chinese minorities by studying their calligraphy, which links closely to their respective histories. One of my favourite parts was our musical exploration activity when we listened to Yunnan flutes and other traditional instruments blindfolded to concentrate solely on the music. It led to some great discussions and helped us bond with the locals and each other.”
Sage, year 13
“One night we all danced together, the whole group along with our local hosts in their traditional dress. We might not have understood much of their language but we could still communicate and have a good time together through the universal language of dance!”
Mizuho, year 13
The next big challenge
As we are well into our first term of the academic year we already have some trips completed and others planned across all levels of the College. Summer 2018 was a landmark year for our Senior School expeditions, as it was the inaugural year of involvement with the Duke of Edinburgh programme and our first year collaborating with JUMP! Even greater things are to follow this academic year, as we continue to seek out locations and themed activities for pupils to explore.
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