Crossing Borders has been the subject of a recent week-long focus at Cokethorpe where, through a series of opportunities and activities, pupils and staff were encouraged to consider what it means to step out of our comfort zone and into the unknown.
When we talk of crossing borders, we usually mean that we are moving from one country to another … but not this week. This week has been all about challenge, about doing something new, about picking up a snake or eating ants or crickets. It has been about abseiling off the Mansion House or sleeping wild under a tarp, but it has also been about learning to make an origami crane or learning how to play Korfball. Some pupils have learned to suture, some have tried busking, but many have immersed themselves in a new experience in order to consider how we can better be comfortable with the unfamiliar.
Talks have included ‘The Domino Effect’ considering how small actions can lead to great change and ‘Black and British – a forgotten history’. Poetry from refugee writers has been posted around the campus and discussed in morning briefing. Pupils in French lessons considered an untitled poem by Alain Mabanckou that compared migration to the experience of a bird in flight.
We want our pupils to become global citizens who can feel empathy for the plight of others and feel empowered to bring about change, even through small actions so that they can face the uncertain world of the future. This week has offered opportunities, not only for new experiences, but also ways of considering the part we can play.
As the sun was setting on a calm October afternoon, a handful of Third Form pupils decided not to take the regular commute home but to stay in School. These pupils had put their names forward to really test themselves in Crossing Borders week on the much anticipated ‘Survival Night’. After a quick briefing, the brave volunteers made their way into the School’s woods to complete their first task: building an improvised shelter to be their home for the night.
The second task involved keeping the group warm and fed for the evening. Pupils scoured the woodland collecting firewood and established a campfire using the resources available. The next element involved preparing the ingredients for their one pot meal for the evening, a vegetable chilli. The rigours of the day evidently caught up with the pupils as they all started to make their way into their shelters and sleeping bags for the remainder of the night. As the sun started to poke through to slowly warm the woods, the fire was relit for the final task: making bacon and egg rolls. The pupils emerged from the smoky woodland tired but triumphant. They all demonstrated great resilience, teamwork and resourcefulness in the face of adverse conditions.
Cokethorpe pupils were ushered into the world of international adventurer Anna McNuff. Named by Condé Nast Traveller as one of the 50 most influential travellers of our time, and by The Guardian as one of the top modern female adventurers, Anna has undertaken some truly awe-inspiring solo journeys and adventures: cycling and running unsupported across the Andes, the whole of the USA, New Zealand and the UK.
Anna foregrounded the idea that ‘the magic happens when we step outside our comfort zone.’ She regaled our pupils with tales of derring-do from every corner of the globe, stressing that each adventure begins with the simple desire to see something new and challenge oneself.