Year 11 Residential Trip - Malaysia

What lessons were learned on residential?

Those six days were the most beneficial, valuable and memorable days of my life so far. I enjoyed it to the fullest extent, not only with my friends, but along with the teachers and the instructors as well.

However, some of you might start saying: that’s what happens annually during residential. Well, this one was special, we not only enjoyed the trip, but also learned very precious and crucial lessons that will stick with us to the very last breath of our lives. These lessons were like the cherry on a lovely, mouth-watering chocolate cake baked with love.

One of the things that Sean, Callum, Uncle Chris and Uncle Luke (the instructors) taught us was that if we were placed in a situation in an uninhabited area and had to desperately go to the toilet, but there were none around us, we could always dig a six-inch hole and do our business. After that we should always cover up the human waste with the dirt that we previously dug, and plant a stick in that place. We had many questions about this method, one obvious question was: ‘When you’re in a jungle and you don’t have a ruler how do you measure the six inches?’ They amazed by breaking the news that we can use our hands, we just hold up six with our hands and hold them vertically. This would help us to dig the six inches needed to avoid bacteria from spreading to the animals passing by and it would also make sure that the waste would be properly used by the vegetation as manure. Another question was: ‘Why plant a stick in that area?’ Callum asked us to pull on our creative hats, and told us to imagine that our friend has just gone to the loo in the middle of the forest, and s/he has followed all the instructions, but hasn’t placed a stick in that area, and we desperately need to flush out the waste from our body, so we unknowingly choose the same spot as our friend to do our job, and we dig up the area we will be faced with an unpleasant, nasty and miserable sight that we will never forget. To avoid all that unnecessary grief, we were told that it would be best just to mark that spot as ours, so that no-one else uses that. A little hygiene in the jungle to keep it clean for the others.

Another very interesting and fascinating fact I learnt was that the wild is just more beautiful than dangerous. Borneo is home to more than 15,000 species of flowering plants with 3,000 species of trees, 221 species of terrestrial mammals and 420 species of birds, and about 440 freshwater fish species. There are some creatures that are only seen in the dark —their beauty shines in the dark, under the moonlight, like a diamond in a mine. All these magnificent creatures deserve to be admired and conserved, not destroyed. The importance of their existence in the food chain is imperative to our existence, and we are responsible for their survival. After the entire trip, I realised just how serious and grave the issue of global warming and climate change is. It is absolutely indispensable that we take every step to solve this crisis. During this whole trip, I felt like I was educated more by the animals that lived in the jungle themselves, than in school, because the jungle was a more surreal experience about the things we talk about every day in school. And that, for me, is what makes all the difference between knowing that there’s a problem, and feeling the problem.

A very valuable lesson that I took away with me from Sabah, Borneo was that, not everything in life is about school, exams, stress and books. You ought to spend some time away from the screens, books and those tables, and just need wander off into the jungle, enjoying the time under a powerful and spectacular waterfall, acting like children again. You need to just spend some a night under a wooden house, freezing during the night because the blanket wasn’t long enough. Insignificant things like these have a very profound effect on people like you and me who spend most of our time sitting in front of our screens. To really get the best out of your life, you need to just walk away from your monotonous lifestyle and just take a break. On the plane back to Guangzhou, I was reflecting back on the past week and I realised that although the whole week was more physical activity packed that my usual school days, however, I felt no stress whatsoever. On the other hand, my trust and friendship with my friends got stronger along the week, and I felt closer to them than I was before that trip. I was just solely focused on that moment and overcoming that task, and making the most out of it. I also recognised just the amount of work we have to do at school, which at the end of the day just tires us out to the core. Despite the fact that I was more physically tired than usual, I thoroughly enjoyed what I did, so I came to a decision that, at least once or twice a year I will take a week off, and just do the things what I like, with the people I like. This will boost me up, and keep me going in this competitive, fast-moving world.

I had the best week of my life with the people I love the most. It was an adventure of ups and downs, rocks and leech socks, and a trip filled with lots and lots of smiles.

Year 11 students and staff owe a big thank you to Sabah, Borneo.