This is the final post for our 2008 Simpson Prize blog, with some reflections on the trip, as we all try and settle back into 'normal' life. The trip is without a doubt a once-in-a-lifetime expereince and we were lucky to share it with such a special group of people. Like all travel, it's often the connections that you make with people that are the highlights, more than where you go. However, going to Turkey and being at Gallipoli for Anzac Day certainly combines the place and the people in a great way.
Here's comments from some us reflecting our last days, general experiences and highlights:
Going to Turkey was an amazing experience. It really was something that I will cherish forever. The experiences that I had along the way with such an extraordinary group of people will certainly never be forgotten by myself especially. For those of you out there that are wishing you we able to tag along, get moving and plan your trip for next year!!! Turkey is an amazing country and the Anzac peninsula should be on the top of any Australian tourists list. You will see many different eras of history including the place where Australia will really become a country - Gallipoli. Finally thanks to the other winners. You guys are just the best group of people that anyone could travel overseas with. You've made the whole thing that extra bit special. Keep in contact guys!
The feeling of comeraderie that came from spending the night with complete strangers and sharing the cold, humour and stories on ANZAC Day, with the lights shining on the Sphinx and on the water
An amazing and awesome experience (I can't stop using those words!) I came back feeling so much more confident. I now understand not only the Australian side of the Gallipoli story, but also the Turkish side. It also helped me find my own definition of the ANZAC spirit- the ability Australians have to persevere through the most difficult of situations and still be able to see the funny side.
Being together on this trip to Gallipoli, our group has formed strong friendships like we normally do with our friends at schools but it's a bit more than that. For the two weeks we've been together, we've been sort of like family; we share stories, make each other laugh and do activities together. However it's sad that at the end of the trip, we have to go our separate ways after spending so much time together. Forming friendships has and is still one of the major highlights of this trip.
I was very disappoined when the time came to leave. Saying goodbye to Gencay was hard enough so I wasn't looking forward for the time when we would land in Sydney. But that was some hours away - first we all had to survive the 'turbulance!' Our stop over in Singapore showcased Andrew and Kayla's stretching techniques, rather amusing. Back on the plane to try and catch up on sleep, for we had two days squished into one! Our last landing together is something I will cherish - we all held hands and made our 'Simpson' connecion one last time before we said goodbye. Thanks so much to everyone who made the trip a fun and enjoyable one. We had such a great time laughing, eating, bush bashing, shopping, cricketing, sleeping?, and travelling. You are now miles away from me- but your memories will stay close to me, forever.
The trip was really great and I'll have memories and friends to last a lifetime. It was a great experience packed with education and entertainment. Doing the trip with a group such as the one I had the pleasure to share it with really made the trip as special as it was. By the end of it our collective experiences had really bonded us.
Though I could draw a highlight for every day of the trip and truly mean it, I choose to single out one specific highlight from ANZAC Day, this being the walk up Artillery Road to the Lone Pine Service. On this, I was walking with Kayla, Ollie and Jacinta for the most part, except for the start where we walked as a group and at the end when we were separated by gender prior to frisking. By this time it was light and in front and behind us on the road we could see a seemingly endless line of Australians and New Zealanders, the latter going to Chunnuk Bair. By this time the people were also livelier, it not being the middle of night by now. Also, during the walk to Lone Pine we engaged in a conversation with another Australian, whom Jacinta informed of how we came to be there. The walk was a highlight because of the company present and the accompanying atmosphere.
Whenever my friends ask me about the trip, 'amazing' is about all I can say. I don't how to put into words such a memorable experience which taught me so much about others and myself. I now have a greater appreciation of life and it really put things into perspective. Boys about a year or so older than me fought and died for their country....and I complained about the number of assessments I had! However, I believe it is very important to recognise that it was largely the people with whom I shared this amazing journey that made everything so wonderful. In 2 weeks, I made better friends than in some cases I have made in 4 years! I agree with Terry, we became like a family, and I miss you all terribly!Two moments really stood out for me, one was watching the dawn break over the city of Istanbul. Seeing the lights of this beautiful and chaotic city as it awoke, like me, to the 5am Call to Prayer was something that will stay with me forever. It was such a spiritual moment.
My second moment was when Emma N and Terry laid the wreath on behalf of the group at Kesik Dere Cemetery. In that moment everything hit me. I cried all the way down Artillery Road and in the bus all the way off the peninsula. I know now that the ‘Anzac Spirit' is real, because I felt it that day. I was so touched by that peaceful place and I feel a real connection with it and the soldier whom I presented to the group; Milton Frank Thornton.
From this trip I have made friendships that will last a lifetime and had experiences that I will never forget.
I'm back at home now, reflecting on the brilliant trip that has taken me to places I never thought I'd go and allowed me to experience so many amazing things I never thought I'd experience. I have had the time of my life, learning and laughing with my new found friends who I hope to keep forever. The Anzac tradition now means more to me than it ever had before and I hope I will help to keep the memory going and be able to encourage others to remember. I am so extremely grateful to have had such a fantastic opportunity and will remain so for the rest of my life.