/ World challenge

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teflonpete - on 31 Jul 2013
My kids' school have a scheme running called World challenge. Effectively, the kids have to raise 3.5k, a portion of which goes to charity, and then do an extended trip and trek in a foreign country / countries after GCSEs before they start 6th form. This year's teams have gone to trek in Azerbaijan and a section of the silk road.

Some people have said to me that universities and employers look favourably at World challenge on applicants' CVs as it shows resourcefulness, self motivation and openness to other cultures. Some other people think it's an extended holiday payed for by mummy and daddy and does nothing to show the qualities above. What do the UKC collective think?
Rampikino - on 31 Jul 2013
In reply to teflonpete:

To my mind it depends on what they do over and above the trip.

For example, the missus was involved in getting school books to Tanzania. This involved her getting to go on an extended trip to Tanzania and she climbed Kilimanjaro etc etc.

However, along the way she and her team had to get around schools and coleges across the Northwest and get them to donate old school books. Then she had to source storage, shipping and at the other end was heavily involved in distribution. All of this was supported by various acts of fund raising.

So the trip alone is just, on the face of it, a holiday, but the real value is the organisation behind the scenes and the efforts she could demonstrate to running the project.
JIMBO on 31 Jul 2013
In reply to teflonpete: I'm going with a group next summer to the Himalayas with WC as a link teacher. I think the kids stand to gain a great deal from the process if the link teacher and parents keep to the line that it is their trip and they need to raise funds (not fundraise as in charity). They also need to be encouraged to organise and learn the independence lessons it can provide. Should be the making of a few people. It is expensive in total but per week it's cheaper than skiing.
teflonpete - on 31 Jul 2013
In reply to Rampikino:

Was that as a student or as an adult organiser?

My problem with the fund raising side of it is that 3.5k is a lot of money for a 15 / 16 year old to raise and I can see it being heavily subsidised by parents. Does it being subsidised parents really show anything about the qualities of the student?

Additionally, apart from the kids' safety, is it ethically right to be using the resources of a less well off country to effectively support holidaying students?
GridNorth - on 31 Jul 2013
In reply to teflonpete: I led a couple of treks with World Challenge. It's not just a trek, part of the trip is to do some work that is of benefit to the local society and culture. It was marvelous to see how youngsters grew and developed over the period that covered the preparation, the training and the trek itself.

Personally I think it's a very worthwhile activity for them. As to the value to Mummy and Daddy, only you can judge that.
IainRUK - on 31 Jul 2013
In reply to teflonpete: I did similar and went with yorkshire schools exploring society.. think it was 185 a month for 12 months to raise the 2000 or so.. each set of grandparents paid a month.. and I raised the rest, mainly by working in a bar 3-4 nights a week, few sponsored events, maybe another 100-200 off local companies.. I had another job as well helping care for an old person and they also paid a month..

Re pt 2.. yes.. these areas want tourism. Its money in. We went to Northern India, did school placements, toured, hiked..

I can't say it was a great experience but it certainly shaped my time then.
The New NickB - on 31 Jul 2013
In reply to teflonpete:

My sister did Raleigh International in South America, aged 21, earlier this year had to raise a similar amount, she was earning part time, but my Mum and stepdad still picked up most of the cost. My Mum and Stepdad are pretty wealthy by most people's standards and my sister has had a pretty priveledged upbringing, but she said she was very much the pauper of the group, everyone just ouzed money.
teflonpete - on 31 Jul 2013
In reply to GridNorth:
> (In reply to teflonpete)
> Personally I think it's a very worthwhile activity for them. As to the value to Mummy and Daddy, only you can judge that.

It's not a question of the value to me as a parent, I've got no problem at all with contributing towards the funding if it's something my kids want to do. It's more a question of how potential employers and university selection boards see it.
ice.solo - on 31 Jul 2013
In reply to teflonpete:

great if the kids can earn it, but if mummy and daddy have extra cash i think a great way to spend it. better than a status car or prada hangbag.

i think kids seeing the world is the single best thing they can do, and tho its unlikely i will be rolling in it, i will happily give up somethings in order for my kid to travel.

maybe it will look good on the cv and embed the values of charity, but theres so much more to it than that.
Blue Straggler - on 31 Jul 2013
In reply to teflonpete:
> It's more a question of how potential employers and university selection boards see it.

I would actually disregard that aspect.
That said, I would hope that no potential employer or university selection board would take a DIM view of it, though. I can't see why they would. To be honest it seems the kind of thing that 16-19-year-old would put on a uni application form, and maybe on a CV, but beyond graduation (or after a few years' work if they don't go to uni), I'd quietly drop it from the CV. YMMV

GridNorth - on 31 Jul 2013
In reply to teflonpete: Some employers will and some won't and I'm sure the same is true of Universities. It demonstrates that they have experienced life other than with school and home. Before I retired I interviewd for staff as part of my job and I would have looked favourably on such youngsters. Far too often I interviewed people in their 20's who had only ever been to school and college and they didn't seem as well rounded as those who had done something similar to this or had been in some sort of part time employment.
IainRUK - on 31 Jul 2013
In reply to GridNorth: Yeah, I get that for my running.. some see it as evidence of commitment.. work/life balance.. a work ethic.. others see it as 'well he doesn't work hard enough.. or 'he'll always be away'..

My old place of work looked very unfavourably on it, so much so that by the end I'd just say I did nothing at the weekend.. as then they assumed I'd been in working.. if I said.. 'Well friday night I flew to Slovenia.. competed in the world championships, representing Wales, sunday flew back'.. I'd then get shit about 'how do you have the time and energy to do that, I don't, you obviously don't work hard enough'...

ice.solo - on 31 Jul 2013
In reply to GridNorth:

several times ive got jobs more because of my passport stamps than my cv.
Blue Straggler - on 31 Jul 2013
In reply to teflonpete:

Pete you seem to assume that these establishments will have a breakdown of how the trip was funded and will judge harshly if the parental contribution was above some arbitrary threshold! I would imagine that at most, if the World Challenge even comes up for discussion in interview, there MAY be a question about what sort of fund-raising activities were done. But far more likely, they will ask about the Challenge itself.
teflonpete - on 31 Jul 2013
In reply to GridNorth:
> (In reply to teflonpete) Far too often I interviewed people in their 20's who had only ever been to school and college and they didn't seem as well rounded as those who had done something similar to this or had been in some sort of part time employment.

Couldn't agree more. My eldest works part time at a stables and is very well thought of by her boss. She's also the driving force behind her group's fund raising efforts at the school's fetes etc. I'm not sure that something like this would do much more to round her as a person than the things she does already and will carry on to do over the next couple of years.
teflonpete - on 31 Jul 2013
In reply to Blue Straggler:
> (In reply to teflonpete)
>
> Pete you seem to assume that these establishments will have a breakdown of how the trip was funded and will judge harshly if the parental contribution was above some arbitrary threshold!

No, Blue, not so much a breakdown, more a general preconception of these types of activities. One person's character forming life milestone is a just a long holiday paid for by parents to someone else, depending on their preconception. I started the thread to try and gauge the support for either end of the spectrum. So far, most posters have been very positive about it being worthwhile and I'll keep that in mind.
annieman - on 31 Jul 2013
In reply to teflonpete: I've led 4 of these challeges, 2 for World Challenge. I am clear that these challenges stretch the comfort zones of the students - physically and emotionally. They see how other parts of the world operate, how other people live, what is eaten in other parts of the world. For me it is I am amazed at people with very little are always happy.

The important part of the expedition is for the leader and link teacher to facilitate the students in reflecting upon their experiences. It will be these reflections that any future interviewer will be interested in, what problems that they had and how were they resolved (Hopefully without input from the leader and link teacher. Their job is to provide a safety net and facilitate development)

Of the students that I have been on expedition with I am pleased to report that they were a credit to themselves and should be proud of themselves for what they have achieved. We need to find a way to make it known, to a wider audience, that these teenagers have great committment and will learn a lot from the experience.
Edradour - on 31 Jul 2013
In reply to teflonpete:

When I was a teenager I went to Kenya with BSES. Since then I've led for BSES and am in the process of applying to lead for World Challenge.

I would agree with the consensus on this thread that it's a very worthwhile thing to do. I wouldn't worry too much about whether universities or employers look favourably on it (though I suspect the former do as it something different and the latter aren't bothered) but I would argue that the whole process is a great learning experience. When I was a teenager the trip instilled in me a love of the outdoors and travel that I still have today. It was also the first time I had been away for a significant period on my own (i.e. without parents, schoolfriends, siblings etc) which was great for encouraging independence. As a leader I can honestly say that watching the youngsters at the end of the trip and comparing them to the kids that turned up is one of the most rewarding things I have ever done.

Financially it's a big ask and it doesn't sit easy with me that the price tag essentially makes this a middle class endeavour (there are exceptions). I did a lot of fundraising for mine, my parents gave me 500 I think and I earnt / raised the rest. Others had the whole lot given to them. Although it would be great if it was more inclusive, I don't think those that can afford it should forego the opportunity out of a misplaced sense of guilt.

If nothing else, it may force your kid out of their comfort zone earlier than their peer group, they may learn something about themselves or about others, either good or bad. Even if they don't then a few weeks in the developing world, around those considerably less favourable than themselves, is infinitely more valuable than a car, a lads/girls holiday or an expensive 18th party in my opinion.

In summary: great experience, I would encourage my kids to attend if they showed an interest.
JIMBO on 31 Jul 2013
In reply to teflonpete: As with all these things the value is very much down to the individual. The more they put in the more they will get out. The presence of WC just gives opportunities to show how they have learnt and used key skills in demanding and very diverse situations. The build up allows entrepreneurship to be shown in creating services and products to fund the trip. Perseverance, organisation, dependability, leadership, etc. should be easy to demonstrate and the boost in confidence with the unfamiliar cannot be underestimated.
However, if it is all paid by parents and hand outs and they just come for the ride it has a much more limited benefit.


Totally-Normal - on 31 Jul 2013
In reply to teflonpete: Just thought I would pitch in, I went on a British Schools Exploring Society (now called British exploring) expedition to Norway in my penultimate year of school. I then went on to apply for geography at various uni's getting 5 offers from 5 applications. When applying to uni you have to write a personal statement in which you have to say that you have x and y skills. Everyone writes about the same skills, eg teamwork, determination, self motivation etc. Having an expedition enables you to not only tick the boxes but also make it interesting. For example I said "I gained communication and teamwork skills during crevasse rescue training. I guess that when admission tutors read thousands of applications having something a bit unusual really makes you stand out.

In my opinion world challenge are over priced, this is because they are a private company so not only pay for the trip but also make a profit.They are also designed for people with little experience so to a more experienced kid it might seem like they are playing at it a little- some are very much like an extended holiday (particularly the African ones) Yes I'm biased but have a look at british exploring. Firstly you get a lot more for your money,(i.e 4k gets you 5 weeks) but also during the expeditions they always include some fieldwork, this is fantastic for a university application.
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earlsdonwhu - on 31 Jul 2013
In reply to teflonpete: Having been a teacher who led trips organised by WC, I soon became very disillusioned. They are big and corporate and expensive. My kids raised trip cost 2500 ish for Bolivia. When we got to Heathrow, the kids were allocated about 350 for their month for food etc. They immediately felt ripped off as they knew the flights were only about 750. We had a great time but if you are paying the same as say for a Jagged Globe trip you should get the same level of accommodation etc but on 350 you are in hostels etc. If you are on a tight budget eating poorly and getting ill, your experience isn't great! It may be character building to make your own arrangements with regard to transport etc but this is time consuming and again seemed to represent time lost for trekking/climbing.

I have major issues with the community project element. It often seems to be a token gesture to somehow validate what is a holiday but allow kids to try to raise funds on the back of it. I think lots of the projects benefit the kids CV's more than the locals. We were tasked with doing some DIY type work in an orphanage but lacking proper tools and indeed skills, the work would not have stood the test of time. We actually decided NOT to spend more money on tools but just go to the market and buy some sacks of flour as that would have more impact on the lives of the orphans. It would have been better to have donated money to employ skilled local tradesmen.

WC gave lots of advice about fundraising but now with CRB checks etc it is harder for teenagers to pick up casual jobs. 3500 is a hell of a lot to raise and you have to ask whether time spent on it will impact on gaining the grades which will probably ( maybe sadly)be universities/ employers' priorities.

I am sure Azerbaijan would be great but whether it is as character building/ value for money or effective at getting into Uni as WC would maintain, I personally doubt.
earlsdonwhu - on 31 Jul 2013
In reply to teflonpete: Further to the Uni application side of the OP, as a teacher, I see kids spend hours and hours on their personal statements but having talked to plenty of admissions tutors, it is clear that for most courses at most universities, these statements are virtually an irrelevance. Tutors know that staff/ parents write them and they embellish the truth! It is grades, grades, grades!

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