A group of intrepid students from Haberdashers’ Monmouth Schools broadened their horizons and embarked upon a month long expedition to India.
Accompanied by five members of staff, the 26 teenagers from Monmouth School for Boys and Monmouth School for Girls leapt at the exciting opportunity to explore a new land and culture.
During the trip, students immersed themselves in a community project in Kais where they painted walls, completed murals and donated teaching materials to local schools.
The group also demonstrated outstanding teamwork and resilience in a once-in-a-lifetime trek in the foothills north of Manali in the Indian Himalayas.
Overcoming physical and mental challenges during the trip was character-building and humbling for pupils, who returned to Monmouth with an exciting new outlook on life.
“The chaos of Delhi and Agra compared with the silence of the Himalayas, the tranquillity of the Taj Mahal and the opportunity to bond with a new group of people, are my defining memories of India,” said Sixth Form student, Adam T.
“The leavers’ ceremony at the school we had been working at was one of the most memorable parts of the expedition.
“They put on a show for us which included regional traditional dances and songs as well as some more modern dances.
“We were also given traditional Indian hats as a gesture of thanks from the school.
“Our time in the monastery during the project was also incredibly eventful.
“Another stand-out moment was the day we cleared the Hamta Pass on the Pir Panjal range in the Himalayas. It was the highest point on the trek, at 4,200 metres.
“Battling the monsoons and cold temperatures proved difficult but it was very memorable and character-building experience for the whole group.”
Mr Gerry Stentiford, Head of Geography at Monmouth School for Boys, said working together and supporting each other had been key elements throughout the trip.
“The trek, more than any other part of the expedition, brought the students together. Being wet for a week made the physical challenge of the trek become a mental challenge.”
Teamwork was needed from the start because the teenagers were given responsibility for their money and decisions over the places to eat and to stay.
“The sheer vastness of the physical landscape was breath-taking at times and some students will remember their complete shock at the sense and pace of life in Delhi,” said Mr Stentiford.
“The expedition was unique, challenging and hard. It was not a holiday but it was definitely a once-in-a-lifetime trip for all of us.”