Captivated by the soul and geography of Nepal
The Scotch Nepal Expedition is a life-changing component of the school’s co-curricular programme.
PHOTOGRAPHY: DYLAN COLEMAN
In the summer of 2014/15, Scotch teachers Dylan Coleman, Katrina Stalker, Rev David Assender and I accompanied 37 boys on the trip of a lifetime to Nepal. With the help of generous parents-cum-doctors, Chris Kimber and Val Usatoff, we navigated our way safely through yet another outstanding expedition. Scheduled for 17 days and culminating in a 10-day trek through the foothills of the Himalayas, this trip provided life-changing experiences for all.
In Nepalese, to greet someone, you say ‘namaste’. While this is a common greeting like ‘hello’, the literal meaning of this word is ‘my soul greets your soul’ or ‘the divine in me bows to the divine in you’. This open sincerity permeates the culture of the Nepali people and was the defining characteristic of our trip.
During the first couple of days in Kathmandu, our group visited the Pashupatinath Temple. Set on the holy banks of the Bagmati River, the temple is surrounded by an array of ashrams and prayer houses. These holy places are frequented by men and women who come to commemorate their loved ones’ passing in a ritualistic cremation ceremony..
ABOVE: NICHOLAS PETER, MS CAMERON, JAMES MCDONALD AND SAM WADDELL AT THE PASHUPATINATH TEMPLE, KATHMANDU
As foreigners we are rarely privileged to gain a true insight into how another culture lives, but on the banks of the Bagmati River our group witnessed this in the profound beauty of another country’s rituals. The boys were immersed in this moment and some even chose to be blessed by a sadhu, a holy man of the Hindu religion. As we walked near the river and observed the many years of history being enacted before us, we all began to understand with greater clarity the culture we were about to explore.
After spending a couple of days in the hub of Kathmandu, we flew through the great Himalayas and landed in Pokhara. From there we took a short bus ride and were dropped off at the starting point for our trek. Throughout the next few days, the boys trekked through stunning rhododendron forests and took in breathtaking views of the towering peaks above.
Having been stopped by uncharacteristically rainy weather, our group pushed on through what was one of our more challenging days, to reach Gorepani. The day culminated in a spectacular snowstorm, which provided the boys with the means for several snowball fights, raising the spirits of even the most tired trekker.
As we arrived in Gorepani, the clouds broke and the sun came out to reveal majestic, panoramic views of Annapurna Two and Machhapuchchhre. The next morning we all woke at 5am to climb to our highest elevation of 3,210 metres, to witness the incredible sunrise over the entire Annapurna Ranges.
Nearing the end of the trek, the group paid a visit to the Bhadure School. The Nepal trip is heavily anchored in charity contribution, with every boy having to fundraise in order to participate in the trip. This money is then donated to the Bhadure School, going a great way to help in sustaining the education of local children. As we approached the school, the students and teachers lined the streets, showering us with flowers and traditional blessings. We shared a meal and learned about their school’s values – a tremendous and eye-opening reward for the boys’ tireless fundraising.
The trip itself was without a doubt life-changing, but the people who were part of it made it so. I wish to thank Dylan Coleman for his diligent efforts to ensure every boy had the trip of a lifetime. The Scotch Nepal Expedition is a truly wonderful aspect of the School’s co-curricular programme, and I am grateful to have been a part of it.
KATHERINE CAMERON – ENGLISH TEACHERPHOTOGRAPHY: DYLAN COLEMAN, HEAD OF DESIGN & TECHNOLOGY
At the time of writing this article, the Scotch expedition had returned just a few months after enjoying the hospitality of the Nepali people in Kathmandu, Bhaktapur and in Pokhara, which were the areas hardest hit by the recent earthquake..Many of the ancient temples Scotch boys have visited are now destroyed and the fate of the hundreds of sherpas who have assisted Scotch tours over the years remains uncertain. Students and staff of the school have been involved in raising funds to help the people of Nepal during this difficult time. Updates on this appeal can be found at www.scotch.vic.edu.au/scotch-news/nepal-disaster.aspx
ABOVE: (TOP) JARRYD SALIBA AND LIAM MENHENNITT HEADING TO GHOREPANI.
LEFT: NIKOLAS ROVAS, JAMES HART, CHARLES SOLOMON AND ANDREW KROGER AT POON HILL. RIGHT: UNWINDING AT TADUPANI.