Adventure Beckons For Morocco Bound Swampscott Students

Swampscott Patch

Adventure Beckons For Morocco Bound Swampscott Students

The high school students will spend a month in the North African country on a World Challenge Expedition trip.

By Terry Date | 6:53 am

Two high school seniors who are to receive diplomas today and start college in the fall will embark on a summer adventure between those two milestones.

Seniors Zach Benson and Robbie Long will spend a month, June 28 to July 27, with four fellow Swampscott High students in the North African kingdom of Morocco.

Zach, who plans to study film-making in college, and Robbie, who plans to study biology and engineering in college, look forward to soaking up sounds and sights and stories in the Arabic speaking country with a rich and varied history and geography that includes desert, mountains and coast.

They will be joined by juniors Renee Cooper, Sammie Baldwin and Max Hanlon, and sophomore Sam Keller.

Swampscott High School math teacher Chris Ratley will chaperone the World Challenge Expedition.

Preparations for the trip have been in the works about a year and included regular meetings with the young travelers to be and their parents.

Originally the students were to travel to Mongolia, but the $8,000 price tag put that trip out of reach.

The Morocco trip will cost each student $5,500, part of which is being defrayed by funds they have raised.

Four years ago, Swampscott High students on a World Challenge Expedition trip visited Argentina, and two years ago, Madagascar.

In Morocco they will immerse themselves in the culture.

They will visit ancient cities including Marrakech where they will hear evening music, stories and healers in a city square.

They will visit the cities of Casablanca and Tangier.

They will visit rural lands and work shoulder to shoulder with villagers.

They will travel through mountain passes, over red-sand desert and stop in the location where the movie Lawrence of Arabia was filmed.

They will visit the Valley of Roses, where 4,000 tons of rose petals are havested each year for rosewater and perfume.

They will see minarets and mosques, and have time to reflect on their experiences.

A major part of the trip is a four-day trek through mountain villages that ends at the Mediterranean Sea.

Over the past month the students have been meeting regularly, bonding in advance of their time together.

They took a side trip, worked fundraisers and some of them plan to take Arabic language classes at Salem State.

The students have some trepidation about their month away.

Worries include the heat, cultural differences and just the experience of being in a foreign land away from home — the unknown.

But they are excited about the prospect of change and newness — the unknown — and bringing back stories and experiences.

Christopher Ratley chaperoned Swampscott students on the other World Challenge Expeditions.

He says the students “come back with a realization of their own abilities, life without an abundance of creature comforts, and a desire to travel or be of service to others.”

The students adapt well and maintain their group ties long after the trip is over, he said.

The students will spend the night before they leave camping out at Swampscott High School.

Swampscott High custodian George Arrington has helped with those arrangements.

George said the students will gain an appreciation for life by visiting Morocco seeing how people in another part of the world live.

“I wish this opportunity could be available to more kids,” he said.

The experience will be available, albeit vicariously, to other Swampscott students.

The World Challenge kids typically assemble a presentation and share it with classmates at a school assembly in the school year after they return.

Then comes planning for the next World Challenge Expedition.

To where?

PHOTOS (4)

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Left, Ben Watson (From Marblehead), Renee Cooper, Zach Benson and Robbie Long.
Front, Zach Benson, Renee Cooper, Ben Watson and Robbie Long.
Ben Watson.
Renee Cooper.

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Posted on June 3, 2012, in Morocco News, Visit Morocco and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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