Student report by Oliver Halford, Charnwood College: St Vincent and the Grenadines 2018

Friday, May 4, 2018

Well, where do I start? I would like to begin by thanking the David Ross Education Trust along with the David Ross Foundation and the Mustique Charitable Trust, without whom this trip would never have been possible. To anyone who may be sat reading this and is about to embark on this trip - make the most of it, take it all in, because it will be over before you know it. This trip is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and one that I will remember forever.

I think a good place to start would be the first day. After each of our individual journeys, we all arrived at the airport hotel for the start of what would be an incredible experience. The night consisted of getting to know the 10 strangers that I would spend the next few weeks with and settling into this new group. That night, I shared a room with Kai, who alongside Oliver (Ole), I spent the majority of the trip with. We forged a friendship that latest the entire experience and one I shall cherish forever.

The next day we set off for St Vincent and the Grenadines and arrived later that night at Richmond Vale Academy (RVA), where we would spend the majority of our time. It was here that we met the incredible staff at RVA, who all did an amazing job of making us feel welcome and ensuring we had the best time possible whilst also teaching us so much. A special mention must go to Selly who taught us about life on the islands, inspired us and also helped us to complete many incredible adventures, including perhaps the most challenging and rewarding experience of the trip; the hike up LaSoufriere, the volcano.

That day was probably one of the best and most challenging days in St Vincent. We all had to prepare both mentally and physically for this challenge. Whilst the hike to the summit was a struggle and an incredible effort, the support that the entire team gave one another to reach the top really encouraged and helped everyone a lot. When one person was struggling, we made sure they had someone with them to push them to reach the top and when we eventually did, the reward of that achievement partnered with the amazing views made it all worthwhile. I mean, how many people can say they’ve hiked to the top of a volcano?

Over the course of the trip, we were also given the chance to learn about the issues affecting this area and our world. We had classes on global warming, plastic pollution and the problems facing the coral reefs. Everyone at RVA did everything they could to ensure we had fun whilst learning truly important things that we could take action on ourselves.

Whilst we were there, we had the chance to take action on the things we’d learned and take part in both beach clean ups and tree planting. This opportunity was so enlightening and made us all think about how we could act and make a difference in our own lives when we got home.

After visiting Kingstown, hiking to see beautiful sights and learning about environmental issues in the area, it came to our last few days at RVA, time that we spent creating incredible memories while scuba diving. It was an experience that I thoroughly enjoyed and that I hope to do again! We had the chance to see the coral and marine life up close, something most people never get the chance to do.

Then it was time to take a trip on a catamaran over to Union Island for our last few days. Stopping off at Mustique on the way, we had the opportunity to see some stunning views and learn more about the way the Mustique Charitable Trust are working to help the preserve the islands, an eye-opening opportunity. Whilst there, we had the chance to visit Tobago Cays, a marine park and turtle sanctuary with some beautiful and stunning views! We were also able to go on a hike to see a species of Gecko that can only be found on Union Island, before spending our final night on a beach turtle watching.

And then it was over. We travelled home, met our parents and I said goodbye to the friends that I’d spent almost 3 weeks with.

As well as building these friendships, I have been given the opportunity to make incredible memories that I will treasure forever! I have also learnt a lot about myself and been given new skills and knowledge that I will carry with me for the rest of my life. I learnt that if you see something needs changing, then take action – even the smallest thing can make a huge difference. I also learnt to appreciate the things we have in life in the UK, as other places have very different experiences. Being able to see an entirely different culture really opened my eyes.

By Oliver Halford, Year 10 student at Charnwood College

 

The David Ross Education Trust Inspiration Fund is used to invest in pioneering enrichment opportunities like its Caribbean ecological trip. The Inspiration Fund is used to create thousands of incredible opportunities for the Trust’s 12,000 students to help them develop their passions and discover their talents.

If you would like to find out how you or your organisation can support the Inspiration Fund, please contact Geoff Sweeney, Head of Fundraising at the David Ross Education Trust, by emailing GSweeney@dret.co.uk.

You can also make a donation to the Trust’s Inspiration Fund JustGiving page, where all proceeds are used to create outstanding opportunities for its 12,000 students.