Image toiling excitedly up a steep path through the verdant forests of an isolated corner of the Himalayas, with the white and gold tips of the Everest range sparkling in the near distance. Then imagine what it might be like to settle in and spend some time there, interacting with the people who live in the villages and Buddhist monasteries which cling precariously to the hillsides you are exploring…

All this is possible because for some years we have been building up a partnership with Ghunsa School in the Solokhumbu region of Nepal. Ghunsa is a coeducational, primary/secondary school founded by Community Action Nepal. Our partnership exists in order to support the staff and students of Ghunsa School in their work and to give both school communities insight into the way of life and world view of an alternative culture.

The interaction between the two schools is at its most powerful when groups of students actually visit Ghunsa School. In 2017 fourteen students undertook this extraordinary adventure and seventeen students are working towards a second visit in 2019.

The benefits of this link for these students are innumerable. In raising money and training for the expedition individuals inevitably gain in self-confidence, communication skills and the ability to work as a team. Far from home, in Nepal, our students quickly develop a high level of self-reliance and resilience. The challenges of walking long distances, changes in diet, the shock of a new culture and simply being away from family and friends with no electronic devices are enormous. They simply have to take responsibility for the physical and emotional well-being of their fellows and themselves.

Expedition members experience many of the human behaviours and issues which most of us encounter only via the classroom or the media. These include deforestation, glacier retreat, the impact of tourism, alternative technologies, diversity of language and belief and the manifold problems of poverty.

This is an experience which provides the staff and students of both schools with a new and wider perspective on their own lives and those with whom they share this planet.

Being in Nepal was a lesson in responsibility. It has taught me to be organised, inspiring and confident It was such a remarkable opportunity and has enriched so many people’s lives, both at Egglescliffe and in Ghunsa.

Beth, Year 12.

Nepal was one of the best experiences of my life. I brought back an appreciation for all of the things I have because now I’ve seen how some people have so much less.

Millie, Year 9.