Wow, we are half way through our China leg and 2/3 of our way through the SSL VYLC program. What a huge effort on everyone’s behalf. Students, staff and families back in Australia (and those travelling).
This week has been another HUGE week, a week without walls in Pak Lap in Hong Kong. Monday saw us travel from Zengcheng to Shenzen (that city may be familiar to anyone who uses ebay) where we crossed the border in to Hong Kong. We then jumped on another bus which took us to Sai Kung where we jumped onto a junk boat for a 40minute ride across the water to High Island. Then we made our final leg of a 1.5km walk up and over a peak to Pak Lap Village and our camping spot on a remote beach. - Pak Lap Wan is a beach located in Leung Shuen Wan, Sai Kung. There are splendid views of hexagonal columns and sea cave. Mok Min Cave is the most famous sea cave near to Pak Lap Wan Pak Lap Village is situated inside Pak Lap Wan which has 300-year history. This Hakka village features a silky beach a temple which is used for traditional blessing. The village has a unique century-old “Fung Shui Wood’ that is home to a variety of flora and fauna.
When we arrived, the students had to pitch tents and settled in. A quick swim in the water, a walk along the sand and a lot of shell collecting ensured. That night we played some team games before collapsing into – well on to – our beds. Thin mats and hard sand certainly made our bed back at Utahloy feel soft as clouds ;). Tuesday woke with warmer weather, the sun tried hard to peak through the clouds. Core 1 had Sea kayaking all day and Core 2 swapped between Mandarin and Abseiling. From all accounts, Core one enjoyed their time, Zane even managed to catch a fish with his bare hand! Well to be honest he was pulling up a net they thought was rubbish and the fish was tangled in it. Chris the chef, cooked it up for Zane and 1B the next night. Apparently DELICIOUS!
Core 2 had their own adventures up a rock face. Most students had a turn of abseiling the 15m drop and rock climbed back up. Some students had their own success by simply just clipping onto the rope and looking over the edge. Luke did this 3 times whilst sobbing from fear, but he chose to do this himself. We couldn’t be prouder than when a students truly pushes their limits without the encouragement of staff, stepping out of their comfort zone into the learning zone. And then we had a number of students who just went ‘NOPE’ and didn’t even try or clip on. This too is expected and quite normal, it usually comes about from students who lack resilience and persistence as well as self belief. We encourage and push, but in the end, it really is up to the student to accept the challenge placed in front of them.
Staff have noticed that Core 1 appears to be our physically active group who find easy success in physical activities, always on the move and busy, whereas Core 2 are our thinkers. CNH staff have frequently commented on the depth of discussion Core 2 bring to classes and their ability to engage in conversation and class discussion. With that in mind, it was awesome to hear that Core 1 had huge success up the rock face the next day, with multiple climbs and abseiling being had. Core 2 also found their own success in the sea kayaks. Everyone had to learn and try capsizing the kayaks, kinda scary when strapped into a kayak. Piper really struggled with the ‘NOPE’ before she finally succumbed and got into the kayak. She had the biggest smile on her face afterwards. The ocean did not seems as scary from then on. Half the students chose to head around the bluff and explored an isolate beach for the day, whilst the other half stayed within the bay exploring by kayak in the morning and coasteering – exploring the rocky edges of the cliffs by foot- in the afternoon.
Our last day of activities saw the students take a tour of the Geopark - The Hong Kong UNESCO Global Geopark consists of two geological regions: the widely distributed hexagonal rock columns in Sai Kung, which are of international geological significance, and the northeast New Territories region, which comprises sedimentary rocks formed in different geologic periods, showcasing the complete geological history of Hong Kong. The Geopark is made up of geological sites and local communities distributed across the Sai Kung Volcanic Rock Region and Northeast New Territories Sedimentary Rock Region. Their tour guide, a Chinese man called David, is an eccentric man who is very entertaining and had the students in fits of laughter. It is a beautiful and educational hike through the Geopark. The other half of the day was spent raft building. 1A v’s 1B then 2A v’s 2B. It was interesting watching the dynamics in the teams and how much they have grown from bridge building. 2B worked fantastically as a team, supportive and encouraging and inclusive – alas they raft fell apart and tried to drift off to Australia. Meanwhile 2A made an awesome raft and successfully paddled out and back as a team, they didn’t quite get the team work together on the building. Core 1 was super competitive, almost to the detriment of others. I like the phrase they use, ‘we aren’t good at winning’ and I did note an improvement on the winning attitude when 1B finally were declared the Winners. Sam made sure 1A were congratulated for being good completion and trying their best.
Our last night was spent around a beach camp fire. Ben started playing riddles, which had us all trying to figure out the code, that would allow you to understand what was going on. Alex C shared one as well that absolutely confounded Jack until other students made it really obvious – all he had to do was use the word Thanks! So many light bulb moments for students when they finally figured them out – it was entertaining to watch.