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Once In A Lifetime 来源: 作者: 时间:2012-04-24

4 months ago I had no idea I was about to embark on the journey of a lifetime.  Traveling to Africa was the furthest thing from my mind.  I had heard of Mount Kilimanjaro, and of the Serengeti, but nothing prepared me for the sight I saw when I looked out of my airplane window.  The biggest mountain I had ever seen, the icy peak towering over the clouds.  Little did I know that 38 RDFZ students, and 7 teachers were all thinking the same thing.  At that moment I realized this task would be.  At least I knew the team we had assembled were strong.  Led by Stefan Sjodin, Cathy Ping and Robert Whalen were to attempt the climb first.  Zheng *****, Xuelin ****, Maria Dunbar and I were to enjoy a safari before undertaking the climb.  We all had various strengths, and I knew we would be pushed to the extreme if we were to succeed.

 

One of the main reasons for me accepting to participate on the expedition was the International Award. The Award is an extremely popular extra curricular activity in the UK and most international schools. The award is extremely rewarding, students learn new skills such as leadership, organisational, problem solving, team work and helping people in need. Having run the award in my previous teaching posts, I was keen in starting and running at RDFZ knowing that the students would benefit greatly from completing the award, not only improving their university prospects, but also becoming better people in the process.  The Kilimanjaro expedition was a perfect setting for this qualification, and as a result, many of the students on the trip have accepted the challenge of the International Award.

 

5 days of Safari was to come first.  Setting off from Arusha in a large green car with 7 students, we were all excited and looking forward to seeing some wildlife.  We were extremely lucky.  During our time in the Serengeti, we saw lions, leopards, cheetahs, elephants, giraffe to name just a few.  We also the migration of over 5 million zebra and wildebeest, small specks as far as the eye could see.

 

Even though I thoroughly enjoyed the safari, the lingering thought of trying to climb Mt Kilimanjaro lay heavy on my mind.  After arriving at Moshi, the students and I began to prepare for the climb.  Mt Kilimanjaro is almost 5900m high, a huge mountain when compared to Snowdonia, the largest mountain in my country at only 800m.  After 4 days of walking, we finally arrived at Kibo hut, a small wooden building at the foot of the last big obstacle.  A small sleep, some food, and we began the final ascent at 11pm.  I will always remember leaving the hut and walking into the darkness with only the stars to guide us.  The mountain was steep, we walked slowly, poli poli in Swahili.  After 7 hours of walking, dawn broke, the Sun began to rise over the horizon, and lit the mountain.  We were nearly there.  After another 2 hours, we arrived at Gilmans point.  I remember sitting there with the students, at the top of Africa, nobody talking, everybody looking down over the country below them.  RDFZ had reached the summit of Mt Kilimanjaro.   It was at this moment I began to realise how lucky I and our students were.  Working at RDFZ under the leadership of Madame Liu and Madame Li had provided me with this amazing journey, one I would certainly not forget.  

 

 

We were a team, a mix of students, Chinese and Western teachers, but most importantly of all, wed made it.........the only thing left to do was to climb back down and to again admire the beauty of the mountain in our airplane on our flight back to Beijing.

 

I would again like to take this opportunity to thank both Madame Liu and Madame Li for their approval of the trip.  RDFZ  is the first Chinese school group to reach the summit of Mt Kilimanjaro.  I hope they feel proud of the effort of the students, I for one certainly am.