09/02: The Trip of a LifetimeCarla Allen
Pakistan isnít the most obvious choice for a school trip, but thatís exactly where four students and their teacher from Moulsham High School have been, to experience a trip of a lifetime.
Four Year 10 students, Carmel Johnson, Hannah Utting, Becky Boyd and Lucy Davis and their Geography teacher Miss Allen got the opportunity to travel to Pakistan after Moulsham High became one of five schools to win a national competition to produce a 15 minute presentation about the country.
The girls won the first prize of a ten day VIP trip to Pakistan starting in Islamabad before going on to Peshawar and then Lahore. Organised by Harlow based IT company Ahkter Computers, the purpose of the trip was to give students an insight into a country which often receives a negative press and allow them to form their own opinions.
Miss Allen and Carmel outside a Mosque.
You can read the rest of the article on the BBC UK site.
This shows that when one is allowed to form informed opinions instead of one sided biased opinions, the viewpoint is much more balanced and beneficial for all involved.
"Before the trip we had heard a lot about the country, mainly due to the way the British media has portrayed Pakistan. However, when we arrived our perceptions on every aspect of the country changed completely. Itís a beautiful country with friendly, enthusiastic individuals. The people of Pakistan were so welcoming and eager to learn more about England.
We went as five individual schools from across the country but we returned as one. We had all made friendships that will last a lifetime; not only with the locals we met in Pakistan, but also with the people we shared this unforgettable experience with."
Carmel Johnson on the Flag lowering ceremony at Wagha border:
"We arrived at the border, just enough time before the ceremony to get a closer look over the border into India. We had such an urge to make a run for it across the line but not dare disgruntle the armed guards! We took our seats opposite the men and joined in with the cheers of the enthusiastic elder proudly waving his Pakistani flag. National music blared out from the speakers either side of the border marking the divide of two completely opposite cultures; religion, clothing, music; every aspect different.
The ceremony involved vigorous hand shaking, head twitching and firm foot stomping; a well rehearsed performance from both sides. Iím so glad I got the chance to see this incredible ceremony; it had been something Iíve always wanted to see."
"It is only now we have arrived back from Pakistan I think we can appreciate fully the vibrant colour and rich culture of the country. It is strange because in the 10 days I was there I really felt like it became my home. I started to get used to the unfamiliar culture and welcoming people, even the food was becoming normal to me! Thinking back on my experience of this beautiful country, it makes me upset to think that so many people in our society have such a negative opinion of Pakistan. I just wish they too could actually experience the natural beauty and open arms of the country before they judged it.
They say what makes a country is the people living in it, and this is certainly true for Pakistan. The Pakistani people put so much effort into making sure we felt welcome everywhere we went, we were even given flowers round our necks and gifts. I remember every single school we visited and the way that the young children presented us each with a rose. My friend was intrigued by this so she asked one of the children why it was that they gave us a rose and the little boy answered 'it is a sign of love'. Everywhere we visited whether it be a school or the Presidency, people never stopped telling us how honoured they were that we were there and that they were meeting us. I was humbled by this because in fact I felt it was me who was honoured to meet them!
I miss the laid back attitudes of the Pakistani people. It used to make me giggle inside when we passed random people sitting in the middle of the field like they had all day to do nothing. However the people there are not so laid back when it comes to shopping! The shopping centres were manic! All the shops were small fronted, long corridors and jam-packed with products and eager customers. We couldnít help but get stuck in and spend, spend, spend!"
Lucy Davis on visiting the schools:
"The morning was very emotional knowing that this was the last day of the trip as well as the visit to TAC (teach a child) school project. They were very lively and were very proud to have the opportunity to see us. All the children preformed an hour long show for us including them dressing up in colourful outfits.
The next school we visited was the cathedral school. The girlsí school band serenaded us! This trip also gave us the chance to talk with Pakistani school children who asked for our autographs!
The evening was free for a group activity. We planned to do a fashion show, which went well considering it was thought out roughly. Some people helped backstage, some were photographers whilst the others were on the catwalk. At the end some of the organizers gave speeches and the students were presented with medals.
In the late evening, we had another shopping spree, as well as a meal out. All the students stayed up late into the morning trying to saver the moment of excitement!"
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