On the evening of Tuesday 15th January, the upper years and members of the Calne community enjoyed an insightful lecture from Justin Wateridge, the Managing Director of Steppes Travel. Justin, who grew up in Zambia, has visited over 80 countries in the world and used his cumulated knowledge to speak to us about ‘Embracing Uncertainty, Unlearning and Communication’. He told us about his experiences and some of his favourite moments in travel, which included hunting with eagles near the Kazakh boarder in Mongolia and experiencing the Gerewol festival in Niger. He also spoke about the Mana Pools in Zimbabwe, Kodiak Island off the Alaskan coast and his time in Pakistan. I know that after the lecture I, along many others, were motivated to go and explore opportunities to travel!

His stories of rangers protecting elephants in Chad and of his guide in Guatemala were extremely inspiring, showing that across cultures and countries, the stories that people tell are amazing.

When Justin told us about his travels to North Korea, some in the audience were quite shocked, but as he later proved (with a brilliant anecdote about a suspect picture and a good-natured official) that, despite what we may be told of a country, until you go there you cannot truly understand it - especially when it is the people that make it special.

Amongst the (recurring) questions about gap years came the overriding theme that you must unlearn what ideas you may have previously had of a place, embrace the uncertainty of new cultures and experiences, and keep trying to communicate with others, because you never know what new experience you may gain.

Rose (Year 12)