Where does an expedition lead to?

I’ve recently had as great a message through Facebook as I could hope to get, so much so that I asked Jess if I could share in on my blog. She agreed 🙂

In 2009 I took a school expedition to Peru and Jess was part of that team. When I run a school expedition I expect the students to take it on and to make it their trip. This team of girls did 100%. As their expedition leader I was soo proud of what they achieved during the trip.

Now 2 years on the team is spread out all over the country but Facebook is allowing me to keep in touch and continue to keep an eye on them and what they are up to. Some are at University and seem to be having a ball, some are about to go to university and I can sense the excitement and nerves that go with it. Many have travelled -Holly is now back from Thailand and Australia, Liv travelled to Morocco, Rebbie had her art adventure in Venice and Jess is now back from China.

I’ve had some fantastic messages from the girls and Jess’s seems to capture it all together brilliantly.

Hey Ian,

So I got back home from China last night and I’m having a bit of that post-peru shock at being back home. Despite the fact that I’d had about 2 hours sleep in the past 30+ hours I’m back in my bed now and it feels far too comfortable so I just managed 4 hours and now my mind’s wide awake again thinking about where I’ve been in the past month and how crazy it is to be home already.

I’ve had such an amazing adventure in the past 4 weeks, I definitely underestimated how difficult it would be at times (it’s easy to forget how much of Peru was actually pre-arranged for us) but I could never have guessed just how rewarding it would be too. At times we got the buzz off achieving the simplest things like booking train tickets or managing to find a bus to take us where we wanted to go. For the first time I think I got a taste of what it’s like to live on the move without a plan and not really know where I’m going to end up next, something which I know you wanted us to experience in Peru. It led me to some amazing villages that I never planned to see but was so lucky to stumble upon, places that may as well have been lost in time with their sleepy rural pace of life that hadn’t been affected by China’s insane rate of urbanisation. That definitely taught me the value of avoiding my lonely planet at times because just by following our own noses we managed to find somewhere off the tourist trail that the lonely planet seems to carve out for every single tourist who visits the country.

Another thing that made such an impression on me is the people who I met out there. Already I miss how many new people I would meet every single day with their own stories to tell and advice to give and the buzz I got from having my own advice to give after a few weeks out there. I’ve met such inspiring people, like one guy who has spent the past few months with the mission of getting from london to tokyo over land and sea without getting a single plane and he was only 19. People at home have tried to tell me that certain trips would be too dangerous or not possible and I can confidently say now that the only thing which limits what you can do is your own imagination and sense of adventure. My age and gender aren’t really obstacles at all.

China itself was such an amazing place. For one it is so huge and varied that I think there’s something for everyone there and I feel like in 4 weeks we only scratched the surface. Seeing first hand what communism has done to that country has made me value my freedoms at home so much. Everything is censored and you get the sense that the party actively discourage freedom of thought because so few people there seem to question the state that China is in. It’s sad to see how many people swallow the opinions that the party spoon feeds to them without ever thinking about how China could be better and I suppose everybody is just resigned to the fact that nothing can really change anyway. In a country that executes more people in a year than the rest of the world put together it’s far too easy to lose your voice if you dare to speak out.

Anyway, I could ramble on for ages but I just thought I’d share some of my post-China thoughts with you because without the impact you made on me in Peru I might never have done this, I certainly wouldn’t have had the confidence to at the age of 18. I think I can honestly say now that Peru and China have just been the beginning of years of adventures to come.

So thank you (probably for the 100th time but I’ll say it again) for being such a brilliant leader who really cared about how much we got out of Peru, it has made a massive difference to me!

Hope the UAE is treating you as well as ever!
Jess

I’m so proud of all the teams I’ve led and the people they’ve been turning into. Those of you (expedition students) who read this I hope you realise the impact you have left on me during our times together.

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