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“My recent trip to India was truly a once in a lifetime opportunity. I got the chance to truly experience a culture that is different to the one that I live in everyday. I did this trip to India as part of an Antipodeans school team. This company is based out of Australia and aims to allow school kids to experience exactly what I did. A different cultural experience that focuses on leadership. This is achieved through trips to countries such as Nepal, Cambodia and of course India.

On the 8th of April, my team consisting of 17 extremely excited yet nervous students as well as the 2 accompanying teachers and the Antipodeans Leader. We checked our bags in and prepared ourselves to get on the medium length flight to get to New Delhi, our first destination. We boarded the first plane to Bangkok. This took around 8 hours. After we arrived, we proceeded to board the next flight to New Delhi. After just 4 and a half hours our group found ourselves in a new, unfamiliar environment.

We were divided into 5 groups where we then took our taxis to the first hotel of the trip. A small place known as Smyle Inn. We stayed there for just one night. We experienced a little bit of Delhi before we were quickly rushed off on an overnight train to a small province in Northern India known as Palampur where we would complete our community project.

After a 14 hour train ride, my team exited the train at yet again, an unfamiliar location. Just as we were beginning to adjust to the cities of India we were in the countryside of India. We walked out of the station to buses awaiting our arrival who quickly drove us to breakfast before we eventually arrived at where we would be staying for the community project.

Unexpected for the group, we were in a luxurious homestay. Our delicious meals were provided to us by the lovely chefs the worked there. We stayed there for 4 days where we worked on a project in a tea plantation. This project was to assist in building a school that would cater for the children of the tea plantation’s workers. Through the money that was fundraised prior to the trip as well as our physical help. We were able to eventually turn the school into a functioning learning environment.

After our community project, we were driven by our bus drivers to a small town called Mcleod Ganj which is also known as “Little Lhasa” because of the high population of Tibetan people. It is also where the Dalai Lama’s main home is. We spent 2 nights there where we were lucky enough as a team to be able to be provided with unique opportunities. Our team completed a Momo cooking course. This is a typical Tibetan dish that was once a delicacy but has evolved into a street food. Momos are a dish very similar to dumplings.

We moved onto our trek portion of the trip after this. My team spent 5 days hiking through the Himalayas where we reached a top altitude of 2900 metres above sea level. This hike challenged us immensely. It also provided my team with great reward as we experienced many spectacular views as well as the opportunity to bond as a team.

Once we had completed our trek we began our final week of general sightseeing. The first city that we visited was Jaipur where we had to take another overnight train to get to. We experienced the many temples, palaces and forts. As well as some truly fantastic food. We shortly moved onto Agra where we only stayed for roughly half a day. My team was lucky enough to be able to experience the beauty of the Taj Mahal firsthand.

My team was then taken on a 8 hour taxi ride to the final destination which was yet again, New Delhi. Unfortunately throughout the car ride, I fell ill. This car ride was not fun as we were caught in rough traffic right until we arrived approximately 4 hours after our expected arrival time. I spent the next day in bed and unfortunately was not able to properly experience New Delhi. Although, I was well enough to fly home on the 27th of April.

Throughout this trip, I believe I gained an assortment of skills and experiences that I will never forget. The views of the incredible Indian countryside, the ability to work well within a team, the development of my leadership skills and most importantly the experience of a life changing trip. It truly opened my eyes to how other cultures differ from mine as well, how many different people live as well as how truly privileged I am. I would like to say a massive thank you to Deaf Children Australia for helping to provide me with support for this opportunity!”