Months of planning and organizing have brought success! We recently completed our first program abroad — an expedition to the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal with a group of South Korean high school teens.
South Korea-based Apex Global Leadership Center (AGLC) joined with us for this adventure-based spring break program that emphasized leadership education. Traveling in the Annapurna region of Nepalthe adventure included our very own Stephen Mullaney as lead instructor, Matt Seats as course director and assistant instructor, and Matt Evans, an assistant instructor who joined as expedition videographer. Sean Hill, founder of Apex, also participated and instructed. This NCOAE custom program delivered beginner-level leadership and outdoor technical skills training with world-class views and cultural sharing.
The students and our instructors flew in from around the globe and met in Kathmandu, where they were driven to a teahouse just in time for dinner. After a night of shopping the Kathmandu markets for backpacking food and breakfast the next morning, the team went back to the airport and on to Pokhara four hours to the north and west. Following a late lunch at a lakeside guesthouse, the students spread out all their trekking equipment for inspection and packing guidance.
Stephen Mullaney taught the students the ABC’s of packing their packs — Accessibility, Balance and Compression. The students packed and got a good night’s sleep in preparation for the next day’s adventure. A quick breakfast and a bumpy van ride through traffic and mountains led the group to Khare where they met two local guides and began the Mardi Himal trek toward Annapurna and Machupuchare.
While on the trek, students were taught leadership techniques as well as outdoor skills – which they then presented to the rest of the group to sharpen their public speaking and leadership abilities. They learned quickly! The skills and lessons they presented to each other included backcountry hygiene, Leave No Trace “backcountry restroom etiquette” for the Himalayas, tent setup, and other topics. Their outdoor classroom was provided by all the natural wonders of Nepal.
With Nepal located at 28 degrees latitude, the weather is much the same as Florida or Baja; also at 28 degrees. The beauty of Annapurna’s ridges and peaks, and Machupuchare’s fishtailed twin peaks, are breathtaking. Blessed by mostly clear skies and mild weather, the students were granted a nonstop backdrop of opportunities for teaching and learning about the world, and about themselves. An abundance of wildlife visited the group; monkeys, water buffalo and a variety of migratory birds shared their world with our instructors and student trekkers.
Students and instructors prepared meals at many of the campsites, — mostly from locally sourced foods in the wild. Occasionally though, they enjoyed dining at the small, family-operated restaurants and kitchens in villages along the trek. Meal preparation became a family event; even young children gathered garlic and carrots from their gardens.
This trip to Nepal allowed students and instructors to share culture, teach and learn leadership skills, and develop global perspectives. One thing is certain — this may have been NCOAE’s first international program, but it won’t be our last!