“Of all the paths you take in life, make sure a few of them are dirt.” -John Muir
I signed up for the fort hike because I wanted to challenge myself and somehow experience a distinct part of Indian history. I didn’t think I’d be able to pull it off because I’m not accustomed to climbing up and down steep paths, whilst trying not to plummet to my death. But I received a lot of support from facilitators and some of the students. I must highlight that if it wasn’t for my peers I probably wouldn’t have survived a great part of the trek because I have a fear of heights (that I am trying to overcome) and they helped me to physically and mentally get through it. When we had to go down a steeper path than the one we initially used, the facilitators held my hand for the parts that I couldn’t even begin to see myself getting past alive. I think the planning was quite effective in that we had enough food so we didn’t starve, and we had more than enough water to get through the hike. However, I think we should’ve thought about how long some of the vegetables could last in the scorching hot sun because we had over a kilo of tomatoes and half of them were rotten the following day.
In addition, I didn’t feel like everyone really got the sense of the history of the place. I know that it was ruled by Shivaji and nobody ever got past it but I wanted to know more than that. I wanted to know what in particular about the fort made it so unique and unbeatable. I also wanted to know about the cultural significance of this fort even today. So in some ways the fort hike wasn’t nothing more than a group of outdoor kids out for some adventure and some adrenaline. However, this is not necessarily a bad thing because it enabled me to see my strengths in a whole new light, I conquered and I persevered even when I didn’t think I could keep walking something inside me pushed me forward.
I also got to bond with a lot of my peers a lot better which made me reflect on reasons why this sort of bonding wasn’t possible on campus. It was probably because we were in the middle of nowhere with no WiFi, all we had was each other. This trek in big ways made me realize that there is so much more to people than what appears on the surface, that I should let people be who they are and appreciate who they are because that’s all that takes for people to be comfortable around you. For people to be happy. I think that as UWC students we’re constantly pushed to do more, to be more, to save the world, that we forget to save each other. We forget to care. Hence, one of my goals for the rest of this term is to find opportunities to care about the people around me including my schoolmates, faculty, staff, even the locals from villages close by.
All in all, it was a challenging experience which helped me realize that I am stronger than I think and that I can handle what life throws at me.