Join us on a road less-travelled

Mr David Proudlove – Head of Senior School

“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.  Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.”

Mark Twain

‘Life is a rich tapestry’, is a metaphor often used when pondering the complexities of our existence, and let’s face it, at SCOTS, that tapestry has a broad tartan border, and is heavy Highland wool!  I have had to contemplate the challenges of the distinctive SCOTS’ fabrics of late as our son had the honour and duty of acquiring those seemingly 1 cm thick, navy blue socks that Prefects wear, not to mention the many metres, and kilograms of the fabric that the kilt is constructed of.

I am sure William Wallace would have fared vastly better against the English invaders at the Battle of Falkirk in 1298 if he’d had something prepared for him in poly-cotton, or perhaps breathable lycra to gird his patriotic loins!

Really good schools are always adding new threads and colours to their particular tapestry, and for 2019, the ones I am most looking forward to seeing added are the royal blue, yellow and emerald green of the Solomon Islands’ flag.  Like so many recently independent countries, their flag’s colours portray those of the physical geography of the nation itself, and in Term 3, our inaugural trip to this tropical, Pacific Ocean paradise will involve students, staff and perhaps even one or two parents from the College community.

Nothing is ever simple, it seems, when trying to organise a visit to remote villages in outlying provinces of the Solomon Islands, but we have made every effort to establish some certainties as we hereby open the quest to assemble a team of SCOTS adventurers.  Last year’s reconnaissance visit revealed many very useful insights.

Certainties include:

  • On 17-28July, a party of between 10 and 15, Year 10-12 students, with 5 or 6 staff and parents, will be spending more than a week in the village of Baesango, in Malaita Province, from where men and women have been employed at Kerry and Simon McCarthy’s leafy greens farm near Clifton for 6-month spells over a period of more than 6 years.
  • Our students will help the local primary school children in their lessons, that are predominantly taught in English; and in the late afternoons, socialise and play with the children and their families in the village.
  • Weekend activities will include swimming in, or just floating down the Kwarea River (I have been assured the villagers have eaten all the crocodiles) learning to paddle a dugout canoe and listening to, but also learning to make and play the bamboo flutes and drums the villagers are famous for.
  • We will receive the most amazing, humbling hospitality; a sharing of all the villagers have, feasting on the freshest fruit and vegetables some of which we will pick ourselves, including pineapple, banana, coconut, and tarot.
  • On the ferry from the capital city, Honiara, to Auki in Malaita Province, our group may contain the only pale faces among many hundreds of ebony-skinned islanders. It is a fascinating experience to be one of a tiny minority if never experienced before.
  • No ‘Jumpers and Jazz in July’ Warwick winter woollies, and certainly no kilts are required as both the days and nights hover around 30 degrees and 90% humidity.

Uncertainties include:

  • There may very well not be any seatbelts on the rather venerable coaster buses we will board to travel to the closest road access to Baesango (but the fact that speeds rarely exceed 30 km/h certainly reduces the risk associated with this situation).
  • Depending on the intensity of recent rainfall, there may not be much tarmac on any of the roads, indeed nor much gravel as the routes through the rain forest often become bare rock tracks in northern Malaita Province.
  • Dugout canoes do not come with personal flotation devices, but as the river is typically only 1-1.5 metres deep, swimming and wading in the warm waters are excellent options in a capsize!
  • Things don’t happen according to strict timetables, but on ‘island time’, so patience, and an appreciation of both the company of friends and a good book are invaluable traits. The villagers simply LOVE Uno, too, so several fresh packs of that card game will be imported into the Solomons when we go.

 

So there you have it.  The inaugural SCOTS-Solomons trip is looking for a few good young women and men, and some slightly older specimens too, for what won’t be your average overseas holiday.  Please let me know if your daughter or son, or indeed you yourself fancy taking a walk on the slightly wilder side this July.  Our aim is for this to be an annual occurrence, so if not 2019, perhaps 2020?

As Mark Twain so eloquently phrased it above, there are such rich rewards awaiting those who explore some of the less-travelled corners of the world.