Nine Upper School boys, accompanied by faculty members Jon Choptiany and Kathryn Edmondson, travelled to Ecuador during the March Break with World Challenge to engage in a community service project, followed by an exciting trek through the rugged landscape of the central Andean mountain range.
Boys on the trip were Cameron Homer, Sebastian Tattersall, Adam Zufferli, Jay Wallace, Lee Wallace, Lachlan Rigby, William Lee, Geoff Jing and Jeff Ing.
The expedition service project offered an opportunity to engage with the Tangali community, an underprivileged indigenous community settled on the western side of the town of Otavalo. The local people survive mainly on farming and cattle-raising. Local families realise that education is the most important legacy they can leave to their children. Therefore, they have big plans to support their local school but lack the governmental support.
The boys helped set up a school kitchen for daily breakfasts administered to the students by the government and for different types of indigenous celebrations held throughout the year. They purchased tiles for the counters and floor, did tiling work, mixed cement, dug a drain and helped to clear the land. There were also opportunities to spend time with the children, play and organize games, help with English homework and conversation, and participate in daily lunch preparation as well as a spiritual thank-you ceremony.
Following the service project there was a five-day hike in the central Andes, up mountains, through small villages and rugged landscapes. One highlight was the Quilotoa “loop.” Laguna Quilotoa is a breathtaking, emerald-green lake lying hidden behind the steep walls of a three-kilometre wide volcanic caldera. The last day was spent exploring Ecuador’s capital city, Quito. The historical centre, or old town, has been a Unesco World Heritage site since 1978.
By managing the budget, planning part of the itinerary and travelling overseas, volunteering in a developing community and trekking through challenging terrain, the boys developed skills in leadership, resilience, global perspectives, responsibility and confidence.