A Blogesque Essay on the Diploma Programme Exordium
“Dear Mr. Vernon,
we accept the fact that we had to sacrifice a whole Saturday in detention for whatever it was we did wrong. But we think you’re crazy to make us write an essay telling you who we think we are. You see us as you want to see us – in the simplest terms, in the most convenient definitions.”
-Brian Johnson, The Breakfast Club
We sacrificed two nights and half a weekend to spend the DP exordium with some of our teachers and friends in a campsite, in Zwingenberg, not too far away from Heidelberg. Right now, I will proceed to write an essay on the events and emotions that carried and dictated the series of rather fortunate events that made up our first little excursion as the newly-found grade 11.Let me begin with the conclusion; by letting you know that it was in-fact a great trip! A strange Thursday preceded the start of the excursion. The benches opposite the grade 11 homeroom were packed full of elaborate hiking and camping gear. Mrs. Vette and Mrs. Stamper probably didn’t have the heart, and/or see the sense in asking anyone to “put the bags under the benches”, so nobody did. We had a relatively normal day of school and we were advised to leave our Schulsachen in the lockers over the weekend, with the assurance that there would be no homework. The fact that a lot of us felt kind of uneasy with the idea of not being able to catch up on or go ahead with the homework for next week went to show that at least some of us had done some growing up over the summer.
With the school day out of the way, we set off to the collect supplies. We first stopped right outside the Heidelberg Hauptbahnhof, where some of us went to scavenge the nearby Kaufland for survival essentials while the others protected the heap of bags that was base camp. Eventually, triumphantly returning with bags of goodies to cook over the fire, and having just missed the planned train to our destination, we had to wait a further 15-20 minutes before hopping onto the next train. The train and bus journey that got us to our destination was rather short, but full of sneers and guilt from the other travellers and us, respectively, about our massive bags shoving them in the face. On the first evening, after a mini hike down from the bus stop to the camp site, we had just about enough time to set up our own tents, help others with theirs and then huddle around the campfire as the sun dawned on us. Ironically, as the temperature around the fire dropped, the ice started to break. Those who were new to H.I.S. and the class were mixing and settling in with the pre-existing groups of friends, and everyone was finding where their little puzzle piece fit into the larger picture of the class. There was warm hearted humour, good food, and everyone from the teachers to the students were having a great time (I hope I’m not making too many incorrect assumptions here). After dinner, some picture taking and the teachers going to bed, the fire also started to die out. Some of the kids took a little walk out to the farmland around the campsite while others stayed around the fire, before ultimately drifting off to bed.The next day, the plan was to gather at breakfast by 8:30, with all our things ready to go on a 15km hike to Mosbach. We were predictably late, but eventually all ready to head out. The hike was tiring, the views were not the most breath-taking, the hill itself did have very interesting varied geology, with changing rock patterns that brought different fauna with it. We had a quick lunch at the top of the hill, and did a little bit more bonding. The descent was motivated by the idea of, once again: food. Initially we had planned a swim in the heated pool, but it was a unanimous decision to skip the swimming in pursuit of hunger and in avoidance of exhaustion. We were given a little bit of free time to roam the Mosbach Altstadt, where the groups of kids and some of their newfound friends sat down somewhere for some coffee before gathering again at the central square to go for dinner at this Pizza place. We then took a bus back to the campsite, where we started another fire and huddled up around its warmth, for the last night in Zwingenberg.
The next morning, to our collective surprise, the extensive messes of tent and equipment that we all had gayly spread everywhere, was miraculously reduced to the bags that they originally came in. We had our breakfast and packed our lunches and were ready to head towards home on canoe! We put our bags in a van that would be driven to the destination and we made groups of three and four people per canoe and then set off into the river. The first timers were nervous, but very quickly saw how naturally smooth the river was as it pulled them along downstream. The dark green hills and cloudy sky that framed the blueish-grey water made for the most picturesque setting, which we could enjoy the most from the centre of it all. During this final lap of the exordium; in the graceful lap of mother nature and surrounded by the twenty other kids who will finishing the rat race of school with me, I realised something: these are the last people I get to know before stepping into the real world on my own two feet. These were the people I would get to see grow into their own understandings of their own complexities, and grow out into the world with whatever brilliant thing each of them would contribute to it. Sitting at the back of my canoe, and simply thinking about the two beautiful friends sitting in front of me, and their possible futures gave me goosebumps. The sheer complexity of the people they already were, coupled with the extremely conducive environment that the teachers at H.I.S. provide, I couldn’t quite get my head around the possibilities for the future. There was no way, that I or anyone near us could see us in our “simplest terms” and “most convenient definitions”. And I hope that none of us will ever be conveniently defined.
Here’s to the exodus from life as we knew it, and exordium into the IB diploma programme!
text & photos: Ayon