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immersion (cont'd) deep admiration of the nature of the Nepalese culture and landscape, as well as a complete removal from the comforts with which we structure our lives, prompting much deeper personal and spiritual reflection. On either side of the trek we stayed in Pokhara – a beautiful lakeside town where treks are launched and recovered from – and it provided us with a respite from the mayhem of India, and preparation for the second part of the immersion in Kathmandu. Once we arrived in Kathmandu, we were allowed a very natural experience of Nepalese culture through home stays and historical tours. Importantly, it was in the city of 10.5 million people and huge poverty that we found the beaming Mother Theresa’s nuns, who (still smiling) accepted our offer of service and showed us the selfless work that Presenting to a class at St Xavier's Godavari. they perform (always smiling), giving and never counting the cost. Xavier’s of Delhi, and discovered that our itinerary denoted All the while, the Ignatian community remained a that same day to a full tour of the Taj Mahal. From then on, strong presence. From accommodation in India to visiting most every day of the Immersion was stacked, and every schools in Nepal and meeting the Old Boys of St Xavier’s opportunity seized. Kathmandu, we were constantly reminded that, as Old A central aspect of this India/Nepal Immersion was the Boys of St Aloysius, we are warmly invited into a community focus on a religious pilgrimage, where we were exposed that transcends our school, our country and tangibility. to the facets of Buddhist and Hindu culture that are best We share a connection with those who love the Society observed in their home. In Varanasi, we were confronted of Jesus (students, teachers and Jesuits alike) that is both by a strip of the 2,525km Ganges River – an especially spiritual and deeply, happily, boyishly affectionate towards holy site for Hindus, many of whom travel from all parts our respective old schools, and should remind us that as a of India to be cremated by the riverside, or thrown to the group we have much to offer in our mission of service as bottom. Across the border in Nepal, we visited the holy city men for others. of Lumbini, the birthplace of Lord Buddha, and practiced Funnily enough, when I’m asked to recall the most Buddhist meditation in Tibetan monasteries and even memorable parts of the trip, it is the hardest parts that underneath the Bhodi Tree. first come to mind. Perhaps not the days spent by the At the heart of this pilgrimage was the desire to attempt toilet bowl with food poisoning, but most often when I to understand all forms of spirituality, allowing us to further missed the comforts my mum and my North Shore lifestyle develop and understand our own. To this end, we would spoon-feed me, I was in fact having the most rewarding gather wherever we were each night to be led in an and the deepest experiences. Trying (and failing) to sleep Examen, to pray and share our reflections. in a second class rail carriage for fifteen hours on a packed The trip was undeniably an Ignatian Immersion. Our train through India; eating mostly porridge and rice and seven-day trek through the Annapurna section of the walking every day for a full, long week; dodging packed Himalayan Mountain Range in Nepal allowed both a busses, motorbikes, people and cows (holy cows) on one road; climbing 3,210 metres to see a truly breathtaking, panoramic view of the sun rise over the Himalayas; getting on with a small team of other Old Boys, and one, mostly patient Jesuit! These are some of the most incredible experiences of my life. And they were honestly, humbly underpinned by an Ignatian vision of immersion, service and spiritual growth. Incredibly, after few showers, many a shared room, plenty of confined spaces and long bus/train journeys of progressively downhill conversation, we are in fact a closer group of six than you would imagine. David Braithwaite SJ survived, and we have him to thank for a thoughtfully planned trip. The grand efforts he places in the Immersions each year produce unique and immense experiences for which the boys from this trip, myself and the boys from past Vietnam immersions are deeply grateful. Sean Casey (SAC 2011), Matt Little (SAC 2011) and Benji Pfister (SAC 2011) with friends in Kathmandu. Sam Burrett (SAC 2010) St Aloysius’ College A Jesuit School for Boys _ Founded 1879 a l oy s i a d / page 56


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