Harrodian's epic trip to Tanzania was as much about contributing to Tanzania's development as it was about sightseeing and safari. And the half-work, half-play combination proved to be a big hit with pupils and teachers alike.
Harrodian’s summer journey to Tanzania was, as Trip leader Captain Stewart explains, not a school trip to be taken lightly. ‘It was a bit of an epic,’ he smiles. The statistics underline the point. Over four weeks, six teachers* and more than 60 pupils aged from 14 to 18 divided into three groups and embarked on 50 hours worth of bus journeys that criss-crossed the Northern half of a country which is bigger than Turkey.
Along the way they were, among other things, able to observe wildebeest migrating through the savannah on their safari in Serengeti National Park, view Mount Kilimanjaro from its foothills and paddle in the mangroves of Tanzania’s Indian Ocean coast.
It was hard physical work for several hours a day that really aimed to make a difference...Our pupils responded by working so hard and absolutely throwing themselves into it
Jak Cooper, Head of Chemistry and group leader
But this trip was as much about grafting as sightseeing. Each group stayed in four different communities where they worked daily on local construction projects: building and concreting paths; fetching water, painting and improving buildings and so on. ‘It was hard physical work for several hours a day that really aimed to make a difference to facilities for locals: for example in one of the villages we were helping to build the first school they’d ever had,’ says Harrodian Head of Chemistry, Jak Cooper. ‘And our pupils responded by working so hard and absolutely throwing themselves into it. ’
So what did the pupils make of this hard-working holiday? 15s student George loved it: ‘My dad told me he had worked on a building site when he was a student and loved it and when I found myself laying bricks and mixing cement I discovered what he meant,’ he says. ‘It felt like half-work and half play: I enjoyed the physical exertion and it was great to feel we were making a positive difference to people’s lives.’
‘The Tanzanians were some of the most friendly people I’ve ever met, Their enthusiasm was so infectious
Lulya, Lower Sixth pupil
Like George Lower Sixth Formers, Annabelle and Lulya were also hugely impressed by the joyous welcome which they encountered in all the communities they worked in. ‘They truly were some of the most friendly people I’ve ever met,’ says Lulya. ‘Their enthusiasm was so infectious.’
Jak Cooper was hugely impressed by how the spirit of friendship blossomed among Harrodians on the trip. ‘Everyone was looking after each other and friendships were forged across age groups,’ he says. ’It was very special to see Sixth Formers and 14s getting to know and like each other.'
Everyone was looking after each other and friendships were forged across age groups. It was very special to see Sixth Formers and 14s getting to know each other
George even goes as far as to say the trip has changed the way hie thinks about the world. ‘Tanzanians live in much more difficult circumstances than we do but they are bouncy and happy and seem happier than many people I know,’ he says. ‘Their ability to make the most of the joy they find in every happy moment has rubbed off on me. Meeting and working with them has made me appreciate what I have myself far more than ever before.’
The Tanzanians' ability to make the most of the joy they find in every happy moment has rubbed off on me. Meeting and working with them has made me appreciate what I have myself far more than ever before
George Kristoffersen, 15s puupil
*Harrodian staff on the trip were Rob Stewart, Paul Grosvenor, Rae Naudi, Rhona Drummond Chew, Jak Cooper and Michelle Mogg.