On September 2nd to September 4th, the whole of DP1 along with several teachers, went on a 3 day trip to Kithugala. We stayed at the Borderlands camp and were led along by Borderlands staff! The activities were somewhat strategically organized to address the components of CAS through the activities throughout 3 days. I had very little idea of what to expect for this experience because I wasn’t here for Week Without Walls (WWW) in Grade 9, so I went in with just the expectation that we would all become closer and I would learn something about myself. Unfortunately I didn’t bring a camera or my phone to take pictures, so all of the pictures are courtesy of Mr. Lockwood (thank you!) unless stated otherwise.
Day 1: Taking The Plunge (Action)
On this day, we arrived in Kithulgala and immediately got ready to go whitewater rafting. This day’s schedule was very Activity based. My rafting teammates were Maya, Mohamed, Amasha, Olav, Shivangi, Ms. Niedermann and the instructor, Candy. Candy’s guidance was so useful to understand the importance of teamwork – we had to synchronize our movements according to his commands to get through the rapids properly. Everyone was supportive of each other. Even though it was activity, it was nothing too strenuous; instead I found it to be very enjoyable and because of that, I tried to raft with confidence. This was nothing but a really positive experience for me; I love the feeling of being on the river. Floating to camp was also such an unforgettable moment after the white-water rafting because it made me feel calm and more aware of my surroundings.
When we ate lunch and went for canyoning, I knew the things we had to do would involve some risk and pushing of my own limits. Although I did have difficulty in going the extra mile, like doing a front flip as I jumped, I was mostly proud because reflecting on myself and the person I was maybe 2 or 3 years ago, I would never think to take any of these leap of faiths.
Day 2: In The Cave (Critical Thinking)
The second day was packed with both activity and getting to know the cultural side of the trip by hiking up to a cave where we learned about its heritage and created some of our art of our own, based on the natural art that we had seen in TOK. When we got to the cave, we had a silent, meditation time, which really relieved me after the hike. Then we split into groups where we created art of our own; I was in a group with Anjulie, Shloak, Charlie and Kai. I drew a sketch of how our art not only symbolized our dire journey to the cave, but also the trials we must face in the journey of the IB in order to reap reward:
It was interesting to see the concepts people came up with as well and their justifications for why it is art. Afterwards, we went abseiling, which I was a little afraid of; I had never done it before. After battling some leeches on the hike up, I was one of the first few to abseil first. It was very, very difficult for me to do it properly, I ended up getting hit by the waterfall many times and losing my balance, falling against the waterfall which led to my panic. However by the time I got to the bottom and pushed myself to make it to the end, I still didn’t feel scared. I just wanted to try again, learn from my mistakes and do a better job. I hope I get another chance to abseil in the future, because that was one of the biggest challenges of the trip for me.
Day 3: Water Narratives (Service)
Today was our last day at the camp, where we conducted the service portion of the trip. We went to interview the local community and found out not only about their experiences with the river but how important it was to them. My group mates included Jamaal, Amira, Charlie, Kai and Ms. Lenk. We went to interview an employee of another rafting company. With Jamaal’s translation we learned so much about how rafting was such an important and central part of the rafters’ lives, and how he grew up in the river, wanted to continue this business and held such a deep passion for his work. We even considered the situation of the dam being built and how that would affect him as well as the whole community. I found his connection to his community very touching because although I do move from continent to continent often, the feeling of home is something is almost indescribable and changes from person to person. I’m glad we were able to share our stories at the end of the day at the longhouse and receive our certificate of completion!
The trip not only allowed me to build my teamwork and communication, but I found myself taking risks and it broadened my horizons because of the interaction with the local community. Our grade was able to share a great experience together through the orientation. It’s just the beginning of 2 years in the IB to come!