Trips and Exchanges
A mind that is stretched by a new experience can never go back to its old dimensions.
- Oliver Wendell Holmes
Successful, well planned and executed School trips have the potential to lay strong foundations for successful learning and to build positive attitudes. The experience and positivity leads to improvements in achievement and motivation in all areas from academic to social awareness and general self–confidence. At Hockerill, our belief in the educational and social value of out of College trips goes back nearly three decades. We run an extensive programme of foreign language exchanges and trips, which open up the hearts and minds of young learners to unfamiliar cultures by living through the local language. We work to promote understanding of the need for sustainable relationships between people and their environment through Geography and History field trips, and students are able to experience first-hand the culture and traditions of peoples leading very different lives in India and Uganda. There can be no doubt of the sense of belonging, and the growing ability to make a positive contribution in their community and society at large that these opportunities facilitate and encourage.
The annual two and a half week trip to India is a life-changing experience. The exuberance, sights, colours, smells, sounds and tastes of India are entrancing for anyone for whom this is their first experience of India. The trip has as its focus two weeks at the Kings School in Tamil Nadu. This is a beautiful school many of whose students are orphans supported by charitable donations from around the world. Hockerill students use the fortnight to teach at the school, getting involved with pupils from the Kindergarten all the way up to the senior classes. In the mornings and after school our students may be asked to teach anything and everything from reading and writing through mathematics to sport. In the afternoons our students teach drama, music, dance, and set and costume design for a musical to about a hundred students in Grade 7. On the Friday afternoon at the end of the fortnight, the Kings children perform the musical to an audience of about a thousand people. Musicals that Hockerill students have taught at Kings in the past include Jungle Book, The Lion King, The Wizard of Oz, The Little Mermaid, and Aladdin.
During the weekend in the middle of the two weeks at Kings school there are fascinating trips to thousand year old Hindu temples, old royal palaces, a trip to the seaside, a shopping trip to the best clothes shop probably in the world, and several other exciting outings. Every evening at the school after rehearsals and before supper Hockerill students have an hour in a gorgeous outdoor swimming pool. On several evenings during the fortnight at the school Hockerill students and staff go out to the local town of Vallioor for shopping, an evening meal in a local restaurant, and an ice cream before returning to the Kings school. Any students who have a birthday during the trip are treated to a fabulous evening.
During the weekends at the start and end of the two and a half week trip, the group spends its time in Mumbai as tourists doing all the touristy things and visiting all the major sites. The two most interesting aspects of this part of the trip are probably the tour of Dharavi – the so-called slums of Mumbai – and a trip to a Hijra community.
Students who go on the India trip return home changed people with henna patterns on their arms and a new view of the world in their heads and hearts.
Uganda is one of Africa’s poorest countries. Average life expectancy is just 51 years, average income (GNI per capita) is $300 a year, and the country has only 8 doctors per 100,000 people (compared a figure of 220 for the UK).
The trip is centred on Kira Farm Development Centre, a 22-acre farm just outside Kampala. Kira Farm, established by the UK-based Amigos charity, is responsible for the vocational education of approximately 40 students aged between 16-28 who spend a year there learning catering, tailoring, carpentry and agricultural skills. The students are all orphans, many of whom have had their young lives torn apart by war or HIV, and Kira Farm gives them the opportunity to learn skills which will enable them to have a more positive future.
During the trip our students will be interacting with these trainees and will see and hear for themselves the challenges presented by extreme poverty. They will take a hands-on approach to development and in doing so will make a lasting difference to the lives of the people they meet. For example, last year’s group worked with the Kira farm trainees to build a kitchen from scratch for a family within the local community, as well as teaching lessons at Kira farm and in a local primary school. In previous years, students have built water jars and sustainable mud stoves in houses in the local village.
Part of the trip includes visiting Hockerill’s four sponsored children: Veronica (Brunel), Jenipher (Da Vinci), Ibrahim (Goethe) and Joshua (Pascal). This takes us up to the north of the country where we also hold a village feast for over 200 people as well as enjoying a land and river safari in Murchison Falls National Park. We also travel to Jinja for a day’s white-water rafting on the rapids of the Nile.
Science Research Study Trip
The annual trip to Samos provides a work experience opportunity to be involved in ‘live’ research working with a company called Operation Wallace(www.opwall.com). The first week is based on Samos and the main focus is on completing the PADI Open Water scuba diving qualification but students also learn field study skills such as small mammal trapping, insect species identification, classification of indigenous species and infra-red camera setting to capture nocturnal animals. The second week is then based around Lipsi and the more remote islands of Arki and Marathi, doing marine mammals surveys, seagrass mapping via kayaks and invertebrate classification. Operation Wallace staff, including leading academics, scientists and post-graduates, lead the two weeks with Hockerill staff acting as pastoral support. There are also informal lectures to attend which underpin techniques being used and enhance IB subject syllabuses such as ESS, Biology and Geography.
The College’s annual Ski Trip is normally open to students in years 8 and 9, with a few from year 10. It takes place at the start of the Easter holidays and for a number of years now has been to Zell am See in Austria. With around 60 staff and students going the College takes over a large part of the Gartenhotel Daxer, where we are very well known to the family who own and run it and made to feel very welcome. The hotel location is perfect to enjoy both great skiing and also the other amenities the town has to offer.
The trip caters to students of all skiing abilities and gives them the chance to have a very full week on the slopes with lessons in small groups with a local ski school instructors with a member of Hockerill staff in each group. Zell am See gives access to the Kaprun Glacier so there is guaranteed skiing whatever the snow conditions are like elsewhere.
If the students are not too exhausted at the end of each day there is a huge range of après ski activities available from swimming and ice skating through quizzes and trips to town to tobogganing and ice hockey matches.
Given that just getting yourself correctly kitted out for a day of skiing takes a certain amount of organisation the trip provides the students with not just the chance to improve their skiing but also to pick up other life skills that hopefully they will be able to use when travelling independently or taking part in other activities in the future.
It would be fair to say that everyone, staff and students alike, who have been involved in the trip in the past would wholeheartedly recommend it.