On the 16th of November our Yr 12's safely landed back in Khartoum from what has become a KICS tradition and right of passage, the Thailand Trip. The trip is also the beginning of the 2 year IB Diploma Programme which prepares them for life beyond the classroom.
The week was filled with activities intended to give our students the opportunity to venture out of their comfort zone. They tested their physical, mental and emotional skills as well as their social interactions. The students had to work in teams, sometimes with other students with very different personalities, interests or skills. Our schedule was intense and we had to balance activities and recreational time in the afternoons.
We enjoyed the green mountains, beautiful rivers and exotic flowers as we paddled our way down the river for 15kms of kayaking on our first day. This physical challenge tested students’ patience as some got stuck on the river banks, others fought huge spiders off their kayaks and plenty capsized. Despite all of this, our students persevered and made it to the end with no complaints. Even those students who did not know how to swim were able to enjoy it.
At the Elephant Retirement Park on our second day, students learned about the differences between African and Asian elephants, the elephants’ diets and how the park works on rescuing these animals. Students were responsible for preparing the food and feeding the elephants. They also cleaned them and overcame their fear of being stepped on. The Y12s encouraged each other to take part despite their discomfort while mud bathing the elephants and celebrated by having a water fight before hitting the showers. After a long day, we enjoyed an afternoon at the Night Street Market in Chiang Mai where we bought souvenirs and sampled local food.
The following day, the government school of Ram Poeng Wittaya welcomed us with a traditional Flower Dance and very excited students waiting to teach us all about Thai language and culture. The Loy Krathong Festival was taking place so we learned how to make our own krathongs (flower arrangements) and discovered how very creative our students are. We helped paint a fence around the school canteen and ended the day with a competition between the Y12s and the local students in a series of local games and a volleyball match. Later that day, we released our krathongs in the lake and headed to experience Muay Thai, a form of martial art. Our students engaged enthusiastically and were especially outstanding when sparring.
Greater challenges awaited on Days 4 and 5 with climbing, high ropes and zip wire courses. The views were fantastic but those of us who feared heights had to learn to face our fears and give it a go. Our students did fantastically, some demonstrating confidence and others an ability to overcome their fears. Having read the student reflections, it was clear that these were two of the most challenging and meaningful days of the trip.
On our final day, our students went on an exploration of the old city. They set off in groups to visit temples, museums and markets in Chiang Mai. They had the opportunity to interview monks at a temple and to do their last minute shopping.