Tuesday, December 1, 2009

DoE India - DIA April 2008

The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award - Incredible India!

Early morning on Tuesday 3rd April, 20 high-school students from Years 10-12 began their journey to Incredible India, embarking on a Himalayan mountain trek for the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award. We were accompanied by Mrs. Sunita Dias and Ms. Helen Dowse. The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Scheme is an award for personal achievement that seeks to empower an individual by setting personal goals to improve themselves. It is divided into four components: a service, skill, physical recreation and expeditions. The program is offered at three different levels: Bronze, Silver and Gold.

We travelled to many different important sites such as the Taj Mahal, Agra Fort, Haridwar, the Holy Ganges, Qutab Minar and Humayun’s Tomb. Going to these places itself exposed us to many different modes of transportation, from planes to trains and from buses to rafts.

After sightseeing in Delhi and Agra, we arrived at Snow Leopard Adventure’s Tuscar Campsite in a national park home to wild elephants. Due to torrential rains, we had to cancel our trekking session for the first day. Nothing could dampen our spirits, so we switched over to yoga and an easy session of afternoon rafting on the Ganges. We had even befriended our campsite insects and lived with no luxury washroom facilities or running water. Despite all of this, we loved it! Our camp instructors, Mr. Marty and Mr. Negi, were kind enough to organize a stimulating biking session for us in the hills, a treat for all nature enthusiasts. . On our route back, we visited an orphanage run by the Divya Prem Sewa Mission for children whose parents were victims of leprosy. 20 out of the 140 children here were orphans. DIA’s Duke of Edinburgh group made a monetary contribution and looks forward to supporting this orphanage in the future.

The two-day trek covered 35 km and over 3000-3200 feet in the Himalayan foothills. It brought out the group’s team spirit, a sense of adventure, caring for each other and required us to share our supplies. It was a relief rafting in the chilly waters of the Ganges after our tiring trek. We cruised along some rapids, however some of us were seen floating along the river after the rapids.

During our stay along the Beach Camp-site on the Ganges, we had the opportunity to experience an evening aarti (traditional evening prayers) along the banks of the picturesque Ganges. We were surprised to see many foreigners, as it seemed that this was a very popular tourist destination known for its religious significance. We spent a pleasant evening shopping in the nearby town of Rishikesh and even learned how to bargain, a handy skill to have here in Dubai. We explored New Delhi’s most cultural market, Dilli Haat. It gathers some of the many different ethnicities in India and provides a place for them to sell handmade goods and crafts. We purchased traditional Indian clothes which we were all clad in on the plane back to Dubai.
The whole experience gave us a sense of achievement and made us truly value all that the luxuries that we take for granted (such as the toilet!). The trip will long be remembered for all that we have learned. We strongly recommend the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award not only for the worth it carries on university applications but for the lifelong skills, values and experiences it comes with.

This trip would not have been possible without our instructors Mr. Marty and Mr Negi from Snow Leopard Adventures-India and our supervising teacher Ms. Helen Dowse, and Mrs. Sunita Dias (DoE Coordiantor) for coordinating such a challenging and successful trip! Thank you all! It was so appreciated that the plans for the next trip are already well underway...

By Aahan Bhojani, 11C

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