High school trips have come a long way since most of us were at school, and International Schools seem to offer even more exciting ones! Here are few places that have been on the agenda for some lucky students, from camping to community involvement – it’s been an important part of their education.
Student: Jarred Vardy, Grade 11
School: St Joseph’s Institution International (SJII)
Location: Western Australia
Duration: Eight days
In June, the SJII Venture/Rover Scouts departed on a mission to conquer Australia. Unfortunately, upon arrival, we realised that the British had already done this, so we settled for a bit of trekking. Jokes aside, our intentions were to hike from Cape Naturaliste to Cape Leeuwin along the south-western coastline.
Camping for eight days and hiking for 135 kilometres seemed daunting at first, but once we set off, each new day turned into a fresh adventure. We walked an average of just under 20 kilometres per day and spent each night at a different campsite, in the wilderness or sometimes a caravan park. We learnt more about navigation by having to find our own way than we ever learnt in a map-work lesson.
The responsibility of preparing food, setting up and packing up camp fell on us, too. It was hard − waking up before dawn and arriving at our next destination just before sunset. However, through tenacity and acute stubbornness, all 31 of us made it to the end − despite bland food, relentless rainy days and the bitter cold. The trek brought everyone closer together and built solid bonds of friendship.
The coastal scenery was spectacular and brought to life what we had learnt in geography classes. Despite various difficulties along the way, the trip was made better because we had each other and our incredible teachers to help us through.
Student: Nina Shariff, Year 9
School: Marlborough College Malaysia (MCM)
Duration: Five days
One of the most impressive opportunities open to pupils from Year 3 upwards are the residential trips. Not only is there an end-of-year residential trip, but also different optional trips, depending on your interests and skills. These trips are valuable in helping students to develop in many ways: learning about teamwork and leadership outside the classroom, discovering the geography and climate of places around the region, sampling local food and culture, and much more.
At the end of the last school year, I went on a fantastic six-night, seven-day trip to Chiang Mai in Thailand. I was also part of the MCM girls’ football team who travelled to Phuket to represent the school at a sports tournament.
Another trip last year, which was optional, was the five-day choir visit to Melbourne. This educational trip included interesting activities and some voluntary community service – we performed at two different churches and homes for the elderly, and we visited the Melbourne Recital Centre and the Victorian Parliament where we saw a live political debate. We also saw two plays at the theatre, Matilda and Kinky Boots, which were both excellent productions. The trip inspired me and boosted my confidence in music and drama. As a result, I decided to try out for the end of year production, Into the Woods, in which I played the role of the witch.
Each of the trips at Marlborough has taught me something new and different, and I have returned each time feeling exhausted, but having had amazing fun!
Marlborough College Malaysia
Jalan Marlborough, Iskandar Puteri, Johor, Malaysia
+60 7 560 2200 | marlboroughcollegemalaysia.org
Student: Isabella Gray, Grade 12
School: Overseas Family School
Location: Siem Reap and Phnom Penh, Cambodia
Duration: Five days
In May, a group of students travelled to Siem Reap for a service trip. We immersed ourselves in the culture, interacted with local people, and worked to improve lives in the war-devastated country. To learn more about the culture, we biked around the Angkor Wat temples, and attended a traditional Cambodian cooking class. We shared the food with grateful children at an orphanage run by an NGO that fosters and educates children whose parents are unable to.
Before the trip, we’d each donated money that was used to buy the new computers we hand-delivered to the orphanage. We practiced using the new technology and speaking English with the kids. It was eye-opening; it’s one thing to read about how children are suffering, or scavenging for food, but another to know why each of them ended up in an orphanage and what their goals are for the future. These experiences gave us a strong urge to help, or just to make one person’s life a little easier.
We travelled to Phnom Penh where we partnered with Tabitha, a micro-financing house-building organisation. We learned about the people who had been saving for years to build a real home for their families – many were living in makeshift housing. We built ten houses and met the emotional families who were eager to finally have a sturdy home.
The trip opened our eyes to how sheltered and privileged our lives are in Singapore. By hearing first-hand about the devastation Cambodia has faced, and seeing the perseverance of its people, we gained a new understanding into not only our own lives, but the world around us.
Student: Peter Bezgoubov, Year 11
School: Nexus International School
Duration: Seven days
At Nexus, we are lucky to have many opportunities to experience something new. The Year 10 trip to Beijing offered all those new things – culture, food and interacting with people in Mandarin. Top of my list were visits to the Summer Palace and Forbidden City; both places are unique and tremendous structures, and each tells its own tale of China’s history.
We got to walk along part of the 8,850km Great Wall of China. We caught the cable car up to the wall and then had free time to explore. My friend and I challenged ourselves to walk to a high point, through Beijing’s polluted air, which we achieved.
I study Economics so it was useful to see real-life examples of what we are learning during visits to factories, such as the famous Yanjing Beer Factory (absolutely immense in size – almost 100 times our school) and the Cloisonne Factory (where each piece is made by only one person, and one vase took 14 years to make).
For me, the trip was especially satisfying as it was an opportunity to practice my Mandarin with native Chinese people. Zai jian!
Student: August Norup, Grade 12
Duration: One week
The KARMUN conference is a three-day simulation of the United Nations’ regular work; high school students play the role of diplomats and learn tactics for negotiation and debate. The ultimate goal of the conference is for students to become more informed and effective citizens of the global community.
When our Model United Nations team met at Changi Airport in March, we were all in for a big adventure. It took 20 hours to reach Budapest, and after a night’s rest we woke up to a beautiful city. The people were friendly and the palaces were mind-blowingly huge and intricately decorated. A night cruise on the Danube River and a visit to the Opera House were two of the many highlights.
The conference’s opening ceremony was held in the astounding Hungarian Parliament building and we felt like members of the Legislative Assembly. Our delegation did a fantastic job, delivered great opening speeches, held various interesting debates and got most of the resolutions passed.
We met many great people, and all agreed that the trip felt too short. It was hard to leave behind our newfound friends and a city that we would all have loved to explore a bit more. We were treated to a view of the brilliant blue sky over Budapest as we flew out of wonderful Hungary.
Name: Adelaide Sharp and Ida Steenslid, Grade 10
School: Canadian International School (CIS)
Location: Luang Prabang
Duration: One week
The trip was one of many run during CIS’s annual Excursion Week, when students from Grade 4 onwards have the opportunity to visit a different country and learn more about its culture and community.
Four teachers and 40 students enjoyed memorable and heartfelt experiences during our week in Laos. Our favourites were staying with a host family in a small village, swimming in the freezing cold water of the breathtaking Kuang Si Falls, visiting a bustling and colourful night market, and seeing the beautiful temples and monasteries in Luang Prabang. We had the chance to observe the monks during their early morning walk through the town to receiving blessings of food from the local community. They rely on this food as all money from donations goes to the upkeep of their temples.
After Luang Prabang, we embarked on a four-hour hike to a rural village in the countryside. In this village, we not only stayed with a host family but painted the community’s new school. The experience was tough but heartwarming. Everyone was grateful for our help and, though we were unable to communicate with the children and adults verbally, we were still able to connect with them and create a bond that hopefully will last forever.
Our trip to Laos was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. We learnt many new things about the country and ourselves, but most importantly that we are all capable of making a positive difference to our world, no matter how big or small!
Student: Ella Gati, Year 11
School: Dulwich College (Singapore)
Duration: Six days
When I heard that I’d be going on an excursion to the Malaysian jungle, my stomach filled with trepidation, and what felt like an army of butterflies. How was I – the furthest thing from Bear Grylls – going to survive five nights in the jungle? On the day of departure, I was well prepared and boarded our coach with sun cream, gallons of mosquito spray and more than adequate food rations.
Arriving at Nur Lembah Pangsun we were immediately thrown into Wilderness First Aid training, which not only provided some quality entertainment, but was a steadfast reminder to be vigilant. However, nothing could have prepared me for the arduous task of rock climbing the following day. The Batu Caves were picturesque, but daunting to navigate; although I had watched the briefing, the magnitude of the task was overwhelming and I realised that climbing rocks was most definitely not my forte.
On the penultimate day of the trip, we trekked to the Sungai Lepuk Waterfall to abseil down the canyon. The goal was to test our endurance with reliance on camaraderie and team spirit to get us through. Trudging through the rainforest in torrential rain, it soon became obvious that our specialised camping equipment was only water-resistant at best. However, the blurred vision of my friends ahead and their muffled steps behind me accompanied by the thrashing tears of the clouds made things oddly comforting.
It was amazing to experience this trip with my school friends, and I wish I could do it all again. Pushing ourselves to the limit required strong teamwork, provided leadership opportunities and developed trust, respect and resilience.
Student: Tal Benami, Grade 12
School: UWCSEA Dover
Duration: One week
Project Week at UWCSEA involves Grade 11 students planning a low-cost, service-based trip. Following an extensive year-long preparation course involving everything from itinerary bookings and activity planning, to first aid training and safety briefings, the students travel in small groups, completely independently of teachers and parents.
My group decided to visit Pokhara to help with the construction of a recreational centre at the Shree Pokhara Viewpoint Primary School. UWCSEA has longstanding links with the school and our group decided that Nepal would offer a unique trip – not just enjoyable but importantly the chance to do something meaningful for others.
I had never been to Nepal. My responsibility was to arrange the visa forms for the group, and we also arranged a meeting with our parents to reassure them of our advanced planning.
My experiences were eye-opening. The trip raised my awareness about Nepalese culture and increased my knowledge of the issues faced by the people. There were many people we would generally label as under-privileged; however, they were so thankful, hospitable and happy with what they had that it made me evaluate my own life. I reflected on how lucky I was to be given the chance to travel on a unique trip. It was the first time I really saw what a difference my peers and I could make for a large group of people.
1207 Dover Road UWCSEA East, 1 Tampines Street 73
firstname.lastname@example.org | uwcsea.edu.sg
Student: Will Mundy, Grade 12
School: Singapore American School
Trip: Kruger National Park and Johannesburg
Duration: Eight days
My trip to South Africa was a powerful adventure I will remember for the rest of my life. We looked for the “big five” – the African lion, leopard, elephant, Cape buffalo, and rhinoceros – while driving through Kruger National Park, one of the world’s largest and most spectacular wildlife reserves. We were awestruck by the beauty and the vastness of the landscapes and overwhelmed by the magnificent wildlife that walked the land.
At the Moholoholo Animal Rehabilitation Centre we experienced the need for animal conservation and preservation as we worked hands-on with a variety of animals. Our trip ended in Johannesburg, with a visit to the renowned Apartheid Museum. The experience was an eye-opener; we were moved by the incredible struggle and journey to bring peace and equality to all South Africans.
My biggest takeaway from the trip was the need to take more risks. From eating a cooked caterpillar to flipping upside down on a zip-line, the most memorable moments from the trip were the times I stepped outside my comfort zone.
Student: Tucker Schulze, Grade 10
School: Stamford American International School
Location: Chiang Mai
Duration: One week
This trip was one of the most memorable and enjoyable experiences I’ve ever had. When I boarded the plane to Chiang Mai, I had no idea how impactful our trip would be, but on arrival at our campsite I realised this would be much more than just another vacation.
Our first night at camp began with a group bonding activity. Each student took a piece of string and pinned it to the middle of the floor. The pin represented Chiang Mai. Our trip facilitators told us to move to a spot in the room that represented where each of us was from in relation to Chiang Mai. It was amazing to see how my classmates were from all over the world.
Trust and friendship grew throughout the week. While rock climbing, I depended on my classmates, many of whom I had barely spoken with before, to hold the belay rope. In the jungle I trusted my peers, and they trusted me, to navigate during a day-long trek without the help of adults. I felt comfortable when we explored the city of Chiang Mai, eating local food and investigating the city’s culture and history. This helped me understand and appreciate Thai culture and lifestyle. I also developed a sense of respect and gratitude for my newfound friends when we worked together on a rice farm.
My school community connected with the world on this trip, and we did it together. I forged deep and lasting friendships with the classmates I was fortunate to share this experience with.
Kaeng Krachan National Park
Student: Freya Shaw, Year 8
School: Tanglin Trust School
Location: Kaeng Krachan National Park
Duration: Five days
I couldn’t wait to go on the Year 7 curriculum trip, “Wild Week Adventure”. On arrival, we dived straight into our first scuba experience, “Bubble Maker”, which we all loved! This was a PADI introduction to scuba diving experience, and having challenged ourselves to try something new, we were amazed at how good we were! Next, we turned our attention to cycling. This was my favourite activity as it was so different to any cycling I had done previously. We were surrounded by vibrant flora and fauna and regularly came across a variety of wildlife – cows, goats, monitor lizards and even some freakishly large spiders! It was a bumpy, exhausting ride, but extremely exhilarating.
Our brief encounter with archery was tough as it involved a lot of concentration and resilience, but it was an incredible feeling when the arrow hit that all important bullseye.
One day, the locals taught us Thai cooking, and I can now make a mean green curry. My cooking group came together brilliantly as a team and we reigned victorious over our competitors. Cooking is a skill which my family is delighted I have brought home with me.
This trip has helped me to become more independent and forge new friendships. I can’t wait to go on the Year 8 trip to Gopeng, Malaysia, and I’m sure these new skills and experiences will support me if I choose to begin the National Youth Achievement Award in Year 9.
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