St Peter's School
St Peter's Sixth Form students have many opportunities to hear from visiting speakers, but we also have a wealth of talent and experience amongst our pupils. In this new lunchtime series, our Sixth Formers address our staff and students on some of their own experiences.
Our latest ‘Sixth Form Speaks’ lunchtime lecture was from David with his ‘Tales of Tanzania - volunteering in Africa’ following his Operation Raleigh trip there last summer. During his month long expedition David worked with a team of young people from around the world, as well as residents of the village where they were hosted, to complete the building of a new lavatory block at the village primary school.
Despite the initial language and cultural barriers, David quickly became accustomed to life with his host family, through games of Jenga, and watching Chinese TV with English subtitles and a Swahili dub. He also got to know the village in general through a universal love of football, and ‘Why is the the white guy so fast?’ is still his favourite quote of the trip.
David and the team worked to decorate and fit out the lavatory block as well as teaching in a local school about the need for good hygiene and hand washing. They also helped educate teenage women on menstrual health. The new block was colourfully decorated and also included women’s hygiene facilities.
David took the initiative to undertake Operation Raleigh in a summer holiday and provided us with inspiration about making good use of gap years and long holidays – and the value of reaching across cultural barriers.
We’re looking forward to continuing our series of talks in the remaining weeks before revision and exams dominate.
You can find out more about Operation Raleigh opportunities here: https://raleighinternational.org/volunteer/
Over eighty people turned out in the Memorial Hall to hear from two of our boarders. Fatima spoke about Islam and its importance to her as a young woman in 2019. She set out to disabuse us of some of the misconceptions about her faith, which she said had been brought home to her through the false stories she’d read in the UK media since coming to Britain. Fatima explained the part Islam played in her life and the value of it to her and her family.
Pierre’s parents have worked around the world, most recently in Saudi Arabia. Returning to Riyadh during school holidays has enabled him to observe and understand Saudi life. He explained the liberalisation of Saudi society in recent years, symbolised by a lifting of some restrictions on women’s dress codes and the introduction of driving licenses for women – with social media and especially snapchat driving Saudi people’s desire for more freedom, especially in terms of music and entertainment.
Pierre and Fatima spoke from their own knowledge and experience giving staff and students insights we would not have gained just from reading about these topics. Following on from James Smith’s earlier talk there’s now great enthusiasm from students to develop this series and be the next to address their friends.
Lower Sixth pupil James has shared the journey of his remarkable trek to the Everest base camp, in a talk to pupils and staff at St Peter's. Here, James offers a brief account of his adventure:
"Over the Easter Break, my Dad and I walked to the Everest base camp, the site from which all full Everest expeditions are started. From Kathmandu I flew into the regional airport in a settlement called Lukla (2804m), one of the world’s most dangerous airports where the runway ends as it disappears over a cliff edge. Then, over the course of 7 days, we walked to Gorak Shep (5180m), one of the most elevated settlements in the world, gaining close to 4400 meters in elevation, from the altitude in Kathmandu, staying in Nepalese tea houses at night. The going got tougher as the atmosphere thinned - and some of the long but simply constructed swing bridges swung dramatically as we crossed them at the same time as ‘trains’ of heavily loaded Yaks approached."
Above: James addressing his audience in the Memorial Hall.
"From Gorak Shep, I pushed on to the basecamp (5300m), where we spent an hour, taking the obligatory photo with a banner to mark our achievement, before scaling Kala Pathar, a nearby peak, the following morning to catch the sunrise over Everest. It was an amazing experience and it’s now a lifetime goal to tackle Everest itself, but that’s an altogether more dangerous (and expensive) expedition."