Final Simpson Prize post
The Simpson Prize students have now been back in Oz for just over two weeks - enough time to re-adjust and reflect on our experiences. Here are some thoughts from most of the gang. This is the final blog entry, so thanks to those who have followed the experiences and for any year 9 or 10 students interested in applying to this year's competition, you can see what sort of experience the winners have on their trip.
After eleven days of sharing an experience, and getting to know such an awesome and unique bunch of people as the ones that attended the Simpson Prize Trip 2009, it's sad being separated by our different states. On top of that, I'm missing our after dinner intense games of spoons and the other card games Andrew taught us, although most of those surpassed my intelligence anyway.
In all seriousness, travelling to Istanbul and Gallipoli was an eye-opening experience. I would like to especially mention Topkapi Palace as a highlight of the trip for me. With beautiful gardens, a wonderful museum and much more, Topkapi Palace was full of history and was a great introduction to Turkey. Having said that, each place we visited was rich in culture and proved to be an enlightening experience, thanks to our tour guide Ozgur, or Fred.
The essay that I wrote before the start of the trip was all about how the ANZAC values resonate through our society today and how they built our nation. It is natural though of course to question that, however, on returning from Turkey I have no doubt in my mind that this is true. We learnt about the Gallipoli campaign from the Australian and the Turkish perspective, which enforced in my mind the reasons why we commemorate ANZAC Day, that is to say the values and the unity born there.
As clichéd and predictable as it sounds, I definitely have to say the Simpson Prize trip is one of the best things I have ever done. I was little bit nervous and apprehensive about going but I am so glad I did because I had such a great time, met some amazing people and I was introduced to some incredible Turkish culture. Actually being able to see the sights of Gallipoli helped me make sense of all that I had learnt about the Gallipoli campaign before and during the trip.
Also seeing the rough terrain and landscape made it easier for me to visualize the struggles that the ANZACs must have gone through in those long eight months. The Dawn Service was definitely the experience of a lifetime - it was so clear that everyone there had a profound respect for all the diggers and the ANZACs. I am so glad I had the opportunity to participate in the Simpson Prize trip and I would definitely do it again if I was given the chance.
Gallipoli was an amazing experience - definitely one that will stay with me for life. Going to Gallipoli, seeing the area, visiting the cemeteries, attending the ANZAC Day dawn service - it has definitely opened my eyes to things I never would have thought about had I just stayed in Australia. All the death and tragedy that surrounds war really hits home when you see the hundreds of headstones with men's names on it - men who could had so much future, that had so much potential, but instead died in a fruitless war. Seeing all the fallen has taught me something - to make the most of life, because you never know what may happen in the future. We must with all our hearts in it, take the opportunities that are handed to us, and make the most of life - these years are all that are given to us. When I die, I want to be able to say that I lived the best I could.
Sometimes we need to take a step back and look at the bigger picture of life. We fret so much about the little things - shirts matching with shoes, year 10 half-yearly exams, being late for the bus - these things can ruin a whole day (sometimes more!) of our life, when they are really just minor inconveniences that we should not pay so much attention to. Did it really matter that you had a bad hair day - would you let it rob you of a day of happiness just because your hair wouldn't sit right? Did the ANZAC soldiers care if they had a zit on their face at school photos when they were out there fighting? In the end, life is about the laughter and happiness, the friendships and relationships, helping others, loving our family and friends, making a difference, the amazing experiences, the moments we cherish and the memories we keep forever.
And as far as memories and experiences, the Simpson Prize trip was definitely something important - something that matters deeply! I have made some incredible friendships on this trip! I hope the friendships stay strong and we keep in touch, because in this group of 8 people are some of the most awesome people I have ever come across. I will miss you guys so much.
The Simpson Prize 2009 trip to Turkey was very enjoyable, educative and reflective. It provided the winners with a once in a lifetime opportunity to experience the culture of a nation almost on the other side of the globe. This trip provided me with a new perspective on history and allowed me to fully understand and appreciate the information provided in textbooks.
The hands-on approach made the learning process extremely enjoyable. At moments the trip took a very solemn and commemorative turn, especially during Dawn Service on ANZAC Day and this gave true meaning to the statistics and tolls studied in class. Overall the trip was well balanced between enjoyment and education. I'm sure that I will never forget this experience for the rest of my life and will certainly look back on memories gained many times in the future.
When I began writing my essay, World War I seemed like an interesting event in history. It was an event I knew something about but it felt like a myth floating though history, which affected a single generation and then remained only as a memory passed along through time.
Now that I have been to Gallipoli, it is so much more real and personal for me. The War brought a wave of devastation and horror across the world, killing and injuring thousands and I have seen where this happened and the many graves. I have seen the difficult terrain they fought in and heard personal stories of some of the individuals who were there. I feel a new pride and gratefulness in the resilient and brave Anzac diggers and the legend they left us. What is truly amazing is that such a harmful event could give birth to a nation's pride and reputation; not just to one country but at least three, as New Zealanders and the Turkish people believe it was the birth of their nation as well. It gives me hope that nations who were bitter enemies can now be friends and commemorate this war together. I definitely learned more on this trip than in two years doing SOSE in the classroom.
I am also shocked at how much I miss everyone. It is hard to know that I won't see them on a day to day basis as we did on the trip. The group bonded so well, by the end you could hardly believe we had been together for just twelve days. It's the little things I miss the most. I miss Andrews's dry sense of humour and funny sneezes. I miss the Turkish food, and the way they stared at Meg and me because we were so pale. I miss the laughs we shared and the emotions we all experienced together. I find it difficult to come to terms with the possibility that we may now never see each other again as we go our separate ways. In twelve days, we became a family. In twelve days, we laughed, joked, played, learned, swam, ate and gossiped together. In twelve days we developed a friendship that I hope will endure for my lifetime.
Thanks Simpson Prize 2009.
It has only been a couple of weeks since we got back from our overseas adventure and even though I have been busy catching up with school work it seems like only yesterday that we were in Turkey. What Andrew said has proven to be correct. It has been hard to explain the trip to other people because they just don't understand what we experienced.
Just because my friends can't envisage what we experienced doesn't mean I have forgotten about our trip to Turkey and I doubt if I ever will. I feel proud to have been part of the 2009 Simpson Competition and I will always treasure my memories and the friendships we formed. So to all of the organisers, especially Andrew, I want to thank you because you allowed me to witness history first hand. To my fellow Simpson winners make sure you encourage younger students to enter the competition because it may just lead to the trip of a lifetime!
All the best, Nic.