For the second year running Year 10 and 12P went to Dalat for their annual expedition. The purpose was to try new activities, talk to new people, become more independent, conquer fears such as heights, camp in tents and perhaps even go 4 days without a mobile phone. For some, the latter is possibly the most difficult especially given that those who suffer with Nomophobia (fear of being away from their phone) as we voluntarily took SIM cards from all of our students. Although this does sound mean, it forced the issue of everyone talking to other people and being more social rather than just looking at a screen. This is something that we are keen to promote generally around BIS. Believe it or not, the world keeps spinning without wifi!
With reports of bad weather in the South, we headed to Noi Bai with 55 students and 7 members of staff. Much to our surprise, after a smooth check-in and flight we arrived in the Dalat sunshine. After a quick bus ride we were transported by long boat to our destination of Nam Qua campsite, a beautiful and remote manmade island where we would stay for the next two nights. Students were given a brief and after allowed time to familiarise themselves with the area were served a well-deserved group dinner cooked with just a generator for fuel and 2 hours of electricity. I have to say, our students, given what they may be used to, adapted incredibly well to their new surroundings.
This pattern of adapting and throwing themselves into their new found lives was great to see. Through the trip each student continually pushed themselves, especially with heights and trusting each other and the equipment that they were using. Stepping back and watching our students in an environment very unfamiliar to them and beginning to thrive was fantastic to see. It was also lovely to see how supportive they were of each other and how they encouraged everyone through their difficulties. Two of our number were brand new to BIS and all new students to BIS were included; we really do have a friendly and caring group of students. The activities included climbing to a top of a 9m pole and jumping to a bar (leap of faith), running across a horizontal ladder (Monkey ladder), a zip line across a lake, team building games, minority dancing, roasting marshmallows over a bonfire and raft building. These tired everyone enough that we had some pretty decent sleep in our luxury forest accommodation. At the end of our time at Nam Qua we moved into Dalat itself for a well-earned wash and buffet dinner which ended in some quite surreal after dinner karaoke which was possibly the highlight to the whole trip. After a good sleep we headed into Dalat for our last day of museums, waterfalls, mountain ‘roller coasters’ and cable car rides to pagodas. All of a sudden we were on a bus back to the airport where SIM cards were returned and life back on the World Wide Web resumed. When we returned to Noi Bai airport where we were met by around half of our parents with the others awaiting us at BIS.
For me the sign successful trip is one that fulfills its aims which I believe we did, but also by the fact that we left with a group of 62 and returned with a group of 62 happy people, although they were a little more tired than when we started. This could not have happened without Phat Tires who provided our activities, the students who involved themselves completely and the dedication of the staff who went and who I am truly grateful to and for their professionalism throughout. I sincerely hope the students enjoyed it as much as the staff and also parents who had a little time off than usual.