World Challenge

Three weeks ago, 19 of us headed off on an experience of a lifetime. We took part in the 2018 World Challenge trip to Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan. We travelled via China where we were in transit for 23 hours so took the opportunity to go to the Great Wall which was such an amazing experience – and we hadn’t even got to our main countries.

From there we started the adventure in Uzbekistan. We arrived in Tashkent and explored a bit and went to Chorzu Bazaar, which was a gorgeous market filled with wonderful smells and sounds – it was truly an all sensory experience. After that was our community phase where we joined the Asraf community, a tiny little paradise filled with plants and animals hidden behind desert mountains with the nicest community of people. There we helped build a small library inside the school and repainted the whole place. It was truly rewarding to be there and very hands-on. We also helped create a well for the villagers, as well as helping with all the food, which was amazing!!

Then we were off to the Silk Route cities. Our first stop was Bukhara where we saw the Arc and Kalon Mosque and minaret. Then to Samarkand, another beautiful city where we spent four amazing days exploring all the sights and we all fell in love.

We then took a 23-hour train ride, which was definitely an experience with all the border security stops, until finally arriving in Kyrgyzstan, the starting point for the trek phase of the expedition. After shopping for food for our tramp and filling four shopping trolleys to the brim, we headed off to the Ala Archa National Park which was absolutely gorgeous. The mountains were amazing. Our hut was up at 3300m and we went for small day walks to a glacier and the summit of one of the peaks (4600m). It was definitely a challenge for all of us but we pushed through and supported each other to achieve it together – a great sense of satisfaction. This was the final phase before we began the long journey home, happy to be seeing our friends and families again but sad to be leaving such an amazing place.

Our experiences over the past three weeks have left lasting impressions on us, changing us for better people, who have a wider understanding of others, other cultures and ourselves. It was a truly amazing, life-changing trip, which we would highly recommend to anyone toying with the idea of travel!

Art and Photography students go to Melbourne

On the 30th of June, the art and photography students departed from Auckland to Melbourne, on a trip we had all been waiting excitedly for all year. After arriving at Melbourne airport, we then checked into our hotel, ‘Best Western’, before we went out for lunch. Our first gallery to visit was the Australian Centre for the Moving Image, a national museum of film, video-games, digital culture and art. Here we were allowed to explore and see the different processes involved in film, as well as admire the architecture of the building. Afterwards, we went down the streets of Melbourne, visiting a streetwear shop called ‘Culture King’ that led to a roadside filled with graffiti art, including spray paint designs. After appreciating the pieces painted over the walls, as well as taking our photos, we rode a tram to Docklands to see the Firelight festival. For many of us, this was our first time riding a tram, the adventure to come excited me, even when we almost missed the tram on the way back from the festival. The celebration included food trucks, numerous musicians performing through the night and was located at the harbour giving us an opportunity to take in the beauty of Melbourne.

The next day, we visited the grand Melbourne Museum. The entrance held water fountains and various other beautiful pieces of modern architecture, providing an ethereal view and already making the museum intriguing, yet our journey had just begun. The museum included exhibitions unlike anything we’d ever seen, such as ‘The Mind’, an exhibit which displayed how your mind and other factors in your body work. One exhibit that I found particularly interesting was the one which displayed creative content from young artists, such as films, app designs and labels for their companies. After that we went on a walk to the Centre for Contemporary Photography, lucky enough to have a guided tour. The photography shown was fascinating, especially as the photographs each held their own story which was displayed in the exhibition in their own unique ways. A long day of walking and visiting the galleries was now over and we decided to take a break in our hotel rooms before we set out once again, this time onto a Yarra River Dinner Cruise. The view on the boat was breathtaking and we enjoyed the company of each other over dinner.

We visited another gallery on the third day, this time the National Gallery of Victoria where we were lucky enough to see the ‘MoMA’ exhibition of modern and contemporary art, including artists such as Pablo Picasso, Andy Warhol and Umberto Boccioni. After viewing the artwork in the exhibition, we were transported to the Docklands Shopping Mall where we split up and explored what seemed to be an endless mall. When we re-grouped, we went on the Melbourne Star Observation Wheel. I was anxious for this as I have a deadly fear of heights, but the view we saw above was so worth it. Dinner came and went and we were fortunate enough to visit CAVES, an artist-run gallery space afterwards. This was an interesting experience because previously we had seen large galleries which were state-owned however, this gallery was owned by two artists rather than provided for, making our visit here very inspiring and educational. We had hot chocolate and coffee afterwards while reflecting on the places we had been that day.

Then came our last day. We spent it walking around the city, before splitting off into smaller groups to explore the shops and what Melbourne had to offer. We re-grouped at 2pm, most of our arms holding shopping bags, to be taken back to the airport after checking out of the hotel. We were all so appreciative for the opportunity we had to visit Melbourne and are especially grateful to our teachers Mrs Palmer and Mrs Manuel who had taken time out of their holiday to give us this once in a lifetime opportunity. Until next time Melbourne!