Students and staff from Saint John Houghton Catholic Voluntary Academy are planning a trip of a lifetime to Cambodia to support with an eco-project to protect the rainforest.
The trip is being organised for the summer of 2021 following the success of a recent expedition to Swaziland, which saw 29 Year 10 and 11 students and four teachers spend two weeks there. In 2017, student and staff visited Nepal and all trips are arranged by World Challenge.
The expeditions are organised over a two-year period and give the students an experience of a lifetime both physically and mentally.
In Swaziland students spent 10 days at the Nsuka Neighbourhood Care Point, a care centre for children who have been orphaned as a result of HIV/Aids, where they helped build and roof a classroom.
Teacher Brent Poland, who helped to organise the trip, said that students learnt vital life skills before and during the trip.
He said: “This expedition fits the ethos of our school in being a worldwide community and helping those less fortunate.
“I am so proud of our students who are a credit to their school, their family and their community, it was a privilege to have spent two weeks seeing them develop and contribute to the team and children less fortunate. Our children learned so much from their children and the hospitality of our hosts was humbling.”
Students, their parents and the school community raised thousands of pounds to fund the trip over the last two years. They also had to manage their budget, cook their food, organise transport and manage an itinerary.
Student Lewis Bilby, 16, said the trip was an eye-opening experience.
He said: “It was a very humbling experience and interacting with such a positive community helped me grow as a person and see things in a new light. The best part was working with the children and sharing our experiences. This helped our group become closer and understand things that we would never see in school.”
Student Erin Checkley, 15, said she developed an understanding of different communities.
She said: “I got to lead an expedition and learned new skills. I helped to build, played with the children, cooked on a fire, trekked for the first time and learned so much about myself and my team.”
Student Clara Barlow, 15, said she learnt a lot about herself during the trip.
She said: “My expedition to Eswatini was an extraordinary experience where I learned so much about my personal strengths. It felt so rewarding to contribute to a small community and leave behind something that will stay with them for many years. It made me appreciate my life at home more.”
In Swaziland, students also trekked through the Malolotja Nature Reserve, reaching altitudes in excess of 1,800m.
The expedition finished with some rest and relaxation in Halane Royal Game Reserve where the teams relaxed for two days by the waterhole with some hippos, lions and rare rhinos.


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