Feeding and bathing elephants and helping the local community were just two of the highlights of Derby High School’s World Challenge trip.
Twenty-four students and staff spent four weeks in Myanmar (Burma) and were the first World Challenge team to visit the country.
During the trip the girls took part in a five-day trek, completed a community project and visited an elephant sanctuary.
Student Clare Borradaile said that interacting with the elephants was an unforgettable experience.
She said: “When we visited Kalaw, the highlight was definitely the trip to Green Hill Valley Elephant Camp, which looked after elephants that had been mistreated.
“Feeding them, bathing them and stroking their trunks was a truly unforgettable experience and the bond between the elephants and their carers was heart-warming to see.”
The community project involved teaching at an orphanage, cooking for the community, planting teak trees, painting buildings including the kitchen, dining room and library.
The students were in charge of their itinerary and had to manage their finances, book accommodation and travel.
Four members of staff from Derby High School accompanied them to Myanmar, including Carole Riley, head of key stage four.
She said: “This was my ninth World Challenge trip and it was definitely the most emotional. It felt like the country was half a century behind because of the military rule. They’ve had so much hardship and they’ve got very little but the warmth of the people and their happiness was just overwhelming. We were all really touched. It was just the most amazing trip.
“The girls were really keen to learn about the country and how to travel independently as they were in charge of the finances and booking accommodation. They listened really carefully and acted on the advice we gave them.”
Charlotte Faleiro, 17, enjoyed an outing to Bagan.
She said: “Once we visited the archaeological zone, it was easy to see why it was so popular with tourists; today there around 2,000 temples amidst the landscape of Bagan. From high up, the view was astounding and the temples and area had a peaceful atmosphere about it, which more than made up for the heat of the day.”