The last 15 days have been amazing. Yet again I have been privilaged to take a school group on our 2 yearly community service trip. This years trip was to Ladakh in Northern India. The community service involved working at the Lamdon Model School in Leh, the capital city of Ladakh – http://goo.gl/maps/Q3E8.
The school is amazing as it services the surrounding districts as well as Leh itself and provides excellent education. A large number of the students are there on scholarship (it costs about $1000 per year for full board and fees). The school offers education from K to 12 and is an amazing place to visit.
The second phase of the trip was the 8 day trekking expedition which started with the walk to our first campsite at:
- Zinchen – http://goo.gl/maps/PbJC
- Rumbok – http://goo.gl/maps/yoYZ
- Ganda La High Camp
- Markha – http://goo.gl/maps/1ic0
- Hangkar – http://goo.gl/maps/r6EA
- Nyimiling Meadow – http://goo.gl/maps/cto9
- Road End
The trip was a huge challenge as we walked in 8 days 116 Km and climbed or descended 6.8km. The students reached almost 18,000 ft on the last day as we climbed over Konmaru La (La means Pass and Ri Means Peak in Ladakh)
Trips like this bring a huge range of experiences and challenges to students and staff alike. While the key theme was community service there was a very large adventure based component to the trip.
For many of them what they had learnt in class suddenly had relevance. They saw, experienced, touched and felt what it means to live in a developing nation. They could make sense of the geographical features they had heard of in class, but now saw first hand as they explored rock pillars, Waddies, canyons etc.
They saw the impact that current projects bring electricity to some of the more remote villages was going to have on a local economy based more on trade than on currency.
The value of a bottle of coke changes when you realise that in this remote village with no road, it has been carried for 3 days on a pony train to get there, especially when you have just walked the last two days of that trail yourself.
I believe that genuine authentic learning occurred on this trip, much of which fits within the syllabus framework, but much too is personal and reflective. I believe that trips like this bring understanding of different cultures, appreciation of our own position and circumstances, respect and understanding of how different people live, an appreciation of other peoples religions and beliefs. Seeing first hand the concepts in play that our students learn in class, understanding and evaluating the multiple layers of impacts that these events and processes have as well as the visceral challenges presented by operating here is incredibly valuable.