Since 2016, it has become a tradition for some ex-Mt. St. Pat’s students to travel to Nepal, as a way to celebrate finishing their secondary school education and an adventure before the next part of their life begins.
This immersion attracts young people who really want to make a difference in the world and experience a developing country at a grassroots level.
We begin by sightseeing in Kathmandu. This is a true assault to the senses and a great introduction to Nepal. Afterwards, we head off to our home base in Pokhara.
A highlight for our travellers is the opportunity to volunteer at the local Children’s Home, with which we have a long-term and ongoing relationship. We play with the kids, before and after school; help with their homework; and do some painting, cooking and cleaning. We also visit their organic farm, where they grow most of their own food. We then have the opportunity for a cultural exchange with the local school. Singing each other’s national anthems always gets a laugh!
Adding to our real Nepalese experience, we have some ‘down time’ in a traditional Nepali village. Mooching around with the locals as they go about their daily chores, milking cows and tending the fields. This gives us an appreciation of how easy we have life in the ‘West’.
…And then, it’s time for the six day trek! Our intrepid explorers walk about 4-5 hours per day in the lower foothills of the Annapurna Range of the Himalayas. This trek is designed to provide the experience of amazing views but not too testing to our endurance, allowing everyone to join. Half-way through the trek we even have a rest day in some hot springs to relieve our tired muscles! Although assisted by Porters, they will only carry half the legal pack weight and have short days. The aim is to show our students that tourism can operate without exploitation.
Finally, we are back in Pokhara for some hot showers, shopping and great food before the amazing short flight back to Kathmandu.
Mr. Jim Smith, who works at Mt. St. Pats, and his wife Anna run FOCUS TOURS, who coordinate the entire immersion. It is organised externally to the school, as students have already left the College, but it is an immersion open to St. Pat’s students and their parents.
FOCUS TOURS also run family tours to Nepal and Luang Prabang, Laos.
See www.focustours.com.au for more information.