During the school holidays, 25 year 10 girls were accompanied by teachers Samantha Clare, Jamie-Lee Brown and Sera Hurley on an exciting, life changing adventure in Nepal. The first week was spent trekking through the Everest region of the Great Himalaya Trail. Every turn treated the eye to truly remarkable scenery: towering snow-capped mountains, crystal blue rivers which you could only cross via frighteningly high suspension bridges and colourful prayer flags flowing in the wind.
Ornate Buddhist shrines also dotted the landscape and gave our guide, Jigme an opportunity to explain their meaning and teach the girls about the local religion and culture. It was a physically and mentally challenging endeavour but highly rewarding, including two glimpses of Mt Everest. After the most difficult day of the trek, we were treated to a fascinating documentary about an expedition to summit Mt. Everest.
A high point (literally, at 3800m), was Khumjung where we visited the local school, one of the first remote mountain village schools set up by Sir Edmund Hillary. Even though Khumjung School is so far away and different in many ways, our students were surprised at the similarities: they have houses which compete against each other in sport, study many of the same subjects, and they too have to wear their hats to play outside.
Back in Kathmandu, the students ran an excellent workshop on positivity, journal writing and goal setting for girls at Asha Nepal, an organisation which works with women who have been rescued from sex trafficking and their young children. The following day, the girls of Asha Nepal treated us to a show of traditional dancing, singing and a moving speech from one of the girls about her life story. This was followed by music, dancing, doing each other’s hair and nails and the Asha girls drew lovely Henna tattoos on the St Catherine’s girls. Genuine bonds were formed between the two groups and everyone was sad to say goodbye. The director of Asha Nepal was so pleased with the interaction and the continuing relationship between Asha and St Catherine’s school.
The trip ended with two days of service at Riviera School, which is attended by a number of students supported by the Mitrataa Foundation. St Catherine’s has raised funds for and visited Mitrataa for several years now. Mitrataa provides scholarships, boarding and other expenses to students who live in remote areas where they don’t have access to a quality education. The workshop on the first day was run by Riviera school and focussed on study skills. As this is such a strong focus at St Catherine’s, our girls were able to share extensive knowledge with the Riviera students.
The second service day began with a donation of the red shirts used in the filming out our new School video "Love School." The Mitrataa girls donned their new shirts and formed a heart to show that they "love school" too! This was followed by an exciting mathematics competition prepared by Mrs Samantha Clare. Much of the Nepali mathematics curriculum is based on rote learning so it was an excellent opportunity for them to see that maths could also be a lot of fun. In Kathmandu we also visited Boudhanath, an UNESCO World Heritage Site and significant place of pilgrimage for Buddhists.
The girls and teachers returned home safely, with wonderful memories and their lives enriched by this unique opportunity.
Mrs Sera HurleyCasterton House Leader and Science Teacher
An Anglican day and boarding school
for girls, Kindergarten to Year 12. Founded in 1856.
26 Albion Street Waverley
NSW 2024 Australia
Telephone +61 2 8305 6200