Last week a group of girls from Portsmouth High took to the Atlas Mountains and local Berber villages in Morocco for an 11 day excursion.
At the same time, Sixth Formers embarked on the most challenging Duke of Edinburgh expedition the school has tackled to date. Five team members completed their Duke of Edinburgh Gold award on the trip; upkeep of team morale was critical to endure the rocky and steep terrain with the rising altitudes of the Atlas Mountains.
‘It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done,’ said Deputy Head Girl, Zoe Printer. ‘We had major blisters, aching feet but it was so worthwhile and incredibly beautiful.’
All the girls then went on to explore the Berber homelands in the searing 40 degree heat. Along the way they engaged with the friendly communities, absorbing their way of life. It was in these homelands that the girls spent three days embarking on community projects. The projects were an extraordinary opportunity for students and local Berber women alike to gain insight into a culture, language and way of life so different from their own.
‘We cleared and painted three classrooms, taught some of the local children English, tended to the livestock and helped produce food and carried water,’ continued Zoe. ‘It was extremely rewarding for us to meet these communities.’
With these achievements under their belts, the expedition was rounded up with a visit to the bustle of vibrant Marrakech. The girls embraced the atmosphere of the city, exploring souks and experiencing entertaining rituals at the famous Jamma El Fna Square in central Medina, such as snake charmers and monkey handlers.
‘It was incredibly hot. Walking in 40 degrees was very challenging,’ said Director of Studies, Mr John Paget-Tomlinson, who accompanied the girls on the trip. ‘But the girls really enjoyed interacting with the Berber people and worked incredibly hard to repaint the classrooms to make them usable.’
Following the nights spent camping under the stars amongst the Atlas Mountains and satisfying their appetite for couscous and olives, the team returned with anecdotes to tell, photos to share and an experience they will treasure.