A World Challenge Report

Over the Christmas holidays, a group of Sacred Heart Girls’ College students and staff went to India on a World Challenge Mission. 2016 Alumnus Christie Burborough writes about the experience.

World Challenge, two words that to most people are just words but to 19 Sacred Heart Students and two teachers, these two words represent an experience of a lifetime.

A month away from home without our parents, surviving on only the few changes of clothes and toiletries that we could squeeze into our tramping packs; this experience was bound to challenge our comfort zones and emphasise the importance of showing empathy for each other.

From December 12th 2016 to January 12th 2017 myself along with a nervous yet excited group of students and teachers travelled to South India and Rajasthan on the second World Challenge trip to be undertaken at Sacred Heart.

The month long trip included a six day trek through India’s Western Ghats, a six day community project at St Mary’s School in Mauryaur and two weeks of R&R where we were able to immerse ourselves in the local culture and visit the many spectacular sites India has to offer.

Although a trip like this may seem like a pre-planned, pre-booked adventure”¦it wasn’t. The only component of the trip that was pre-booked for us was our first two nights accommodation and transport from the airport to this accommodation; the rest was up to us. At Auckland airport we were given the team’s food, transport and accommodation budget for the entire trip and from that moment on the next month was completely in our control.

The month away from home brought with it a lot of physical, emotional and spiritual challenges. We learnt new skills and lessons such as; bargaining, the importance of money, how to book accommodation and transport as well as learning the ins and outs of travelling in a foreign country. We were also given the opportunity to develop our leadership skills through the different roles we played in the group, some of which included; accountants, transport leaders, accommodation leaders, food leaders and daily group leaders. Our most important lesson, however, was that of empathy and how vital it is to show empathy in an environment such as the one we found ourselves in; as it is not always easy being around 18 other girls and three adults who aren’t your family when you’re missing home, are unwell or really just want a bit of alone time.

The six day trek was a walk in the park for some of us and for others the most challenging part of the trip. Over six days we walked approximately 80 kms, stayed in tents each night and showered from a bucket. Each night when we arrived at a new campsite after a long day walking we would pitch the tents, wash and then most of us would spend time socialising, playing cards or writing in our diaries.

The community project for a lot of us was a highlight of the trip. Being surrounded by the children, knowing that we were there to help improve their school was an incredible feeling.

While we were there we hired and helped a mason revamp the schools leaking water tank and also decorated the building walls with paintings of the alphabet, fruit and vegetables, numbers 1 to 10, the days of the week and months of the year. It was a busy six days but the hard work paid off in the end when we visited the school on the day we left and got to see the children’s reaction to all the paintings.

The two weeks spent sight-seeing was a nice chance for us to relax and experience the sights, smells and sounds of India. Some of the activities we did during this time were; cruising the backwaters of Alleppey on a houseboat, going to the Amber fort, the Pink City, the Agra fort and one of the seven wonders of the world, the Taj Mahal.

The learning provided by our time in India enhanced many of the things we learn within school but also provided an education we could never get by staying in New Zealand. It provided many moments and experiences that allowed us to see the gospel values of Faith, Hope and Justice in new, and often confronting, situations.

It also gave us a whole lot of new and fantastic real-life contexts in which to use Communion, Contemplation and Mission. The challenges we faced were testing in a number of ways and having the ability to be apply the lessons that CCM and Head Heart Hands taught us in school whilst in India was invaluable. In particular, working with the sisters and other locals at St Mary’s was an inspiring example of faith in action.

While our time in India flew by, when the day came to go home we were all ready to leave. The experience we had through World Challenge was incredible and one we will never forget. I would just like to say on behalf of all if the girls on the trip, thank you to Mr Mac and Mrs Shakeela for sharing this experience with us, as well as to all of those people who worked behind the scenes to make this trip happen for us. Thank you parents, school and members of the BoT who approved our Mission.

World Challenge, two words that to us, represent a month of challenges, learning and an experience of a lifetime.