Whilst most will choose to spend their summer holidays relaxing after a tough school year - a group of students and staff from Highfields are preparing for a life-changing trip to Swaziland for a mission of self exploration and community work which will challenge their mental and physical strength.
Twelve students and three members of staff will be travelling to the small African kingdom for the intensive two-week expedition in July 2017.
Our students have chosen the destination and will be involved with all elements of planning and decision-making for their African adventure, which aims to improve their teamwork and leadership skills, help them to become more globally aware, boost their confidence and self-esteem and enhance their employment prospects.
As well as an acclimatisation period, which will see students introduced to the local produce available and tasked with funding, planning and preparing a menu to feed the whole team during their time away, a huge focus of the trip will be a six-day community project.
This important phase of the trip will give them the unique opportunity to immerse themselves in the community and is likely to involve working with a local school on a range of tasks including painting, construction, teaching and running sports matches whilst learning about the conservation of precious water resources and basic sanitation at the same time as developing global citizenship skills through facing the challenges of living and working in the developing world.
The team will then embark on a 4/5-day expedition on a route of the students’ choosing to give them a chance to experience Swaziland’s stunning natural beauty before a two-day rest and relaxation period which is likely to be at the Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary surrounded by zebras, warthogs, antelope, hippos, crocodiles and birds.
Our students have already hosted a number of fundraising events to bring in the thousands of pounds needed to make the trip possible, including selling pancakes and hosting a raffle for the audiences of the school’s production of Our House. They are also planning to a run a number of other events to raise money for the trip over the coming months including hosting a quiz night, disco and cake sales as well as washing cars and busking in school and in the local community.
Highfields’ Community Engagement Officer Lisa Corbett, who will be accompanying students on the trip along with two other staff members - Wayne Harrison and Emma Fisher - said that the trip was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the team.
“The students have been in charge of the planning of all elements of the trip,” she said. “They chose the destination based on a number of factors, including the fact that it is somewhere they would not normally have access to and it will provide a number of challenges and a real opportunity for them to make a difference to a local community in Swaziland.
“We are already working on our fitness as we have to reach a certain level to be able to go on the trip. It is exciting that the preparations are now really under way and the students have already started with their fundraising to make the trip possible.
“It is certainly not just a holiday, and will really test us but it will be a great opportunity for our students to boost their teamwork and leadership skills and enhance their CVs to improve their future opportunities. This really will be a life-changing experience for us all.”
The trip is being organised in conjunction with World Challenge, a leading organisation behind life-changing school expeditions, which provides 24-hour support and expertise for educational trips abroad.
Students are now hoping to forge links with local businesses to raise sponsorship money for their expedition.
*Photographs courtesy of World Challenge