W.O.W. at Corbett National Park by Hailey

Every year at AES the middle school shuts their classroom doors and heads out for a week “With Out Walls” — our WOW trip.  Each grade heads to a different location within India and the 6th graders went to Corbett National Park and spent 5 days enjoying life outside of school and outside of New Delhi.  We gathered at 4am on Sunday morning where we were divided into groups before heading out on a six hour bus ride (ha, ha, ha…. it was 8 hours on the way there and 12 hours on the return!  Okay, so the length of these trips was determined quite a bit by the pure number of bathroom and sickness stops made.  Let’s just say that I went to the bathroom in some very unique areas along the road.  No thanks on another long bus ride for a while.)  We arrived at our first destination on Sunday evening where we spent 2 nights at Ram Ganga.

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This was my favorite spot of the two locations we spent.  Some of the highlights included:

  • Hiking up to a small village and learning how to make fertilizer.  We literally took cow manure by the handfuls, placed our hand in water and added cow urine to the batter to get it just right so we could help stock their fertilizer for their crops.
  • We discovered how to make a natural shampoo by removing a limb of a certain tree, remove the bark and then placing the bark and the limb in the water to soak for 10 minutes before using as your shampoo.
  • Saw a “curry” leaf.
  • Learned how to purify water with a piece of cotton, a piece of cloth, a water bottle and the nature around us as we went on a river walk
  • Made jewelry with natural seeds bringing home some earrings for my mom.
  • Campfire
  • Playing capture the flag in the fields — it was so great to be outside in the wide open with nature around us and enjoying the swimming pool as well.

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The swimming pool at our first lodging location.

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Our “huts” where we slept.  It was nice to have a “western toilet” available.

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On Tuesday we swapped locations with the other half of the 6th grade as there are too many of us to stay at one location and do all the activities together.  The second location was called “The Den.”  Some of the highlights from this location included:

  • Painting a bus stop and cleaning up around it with a group called “Waste Warriors” which is helping villages stay clean.
  • Campfire with real s’mores — yes marshmallows were shipped in from the US.
  • Visited a local school where we danced with them, visited their classrooms and helped clean up the trash around their school.
  • Helped wash an elephant — yes, I really took some smooth stones, and as the elephant laid on its side in the river, we got to scrub him with the water and stones.  I was positioned near the lower back area and got sprayed several times by the elephant’s trunk as he helped distribute the water over his body as we scrubbed.  When the elephant was finished with the bath, he made sure to let us know as we promptly moved aside.

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On our hike to the school.

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Some of the students that we got to do activities with at their school.

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One of the classrooms.

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The elephant we got to scrub in the river.

Overall, it was a great week to just be outside of this massive city where we live and see nature and some wide open spaces.  After the LONG bus ride home (traffic here is more than unpredictable) I was happy to see my bed and finally take my own shower!

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