Reflections on Simpson Prize Trip 2011
When this trip began, I didn’t know what to expect. Here were eight different teenagers, with eight different lives, from eight different states, who were about to embark on an experience of a lifetime. I recall people commenting, “So one person from every other state is going with you? Do you know them well? That’s going to be challenging.” But it wasn’t – because Simpsonites aren’t ordinary teenagers (as pointed out by Stu on the first night). I have never met a more knowledgeable, hilarious, talented, friendly group of people in my life. We all got along so well, that it seemed we had known each other for years. I am so glad that we were able to go on this journey together.
The trip itself was a wonderful and extremely memorable experience. I learnt so much about the Gallipoli campaign and the Anzac spirit while gaining an insight into Turkish history and culture. It is really hard to explain the feeling one gets when walking through the original Australian trenches at Lone Pine, while standing at the top of Plugge’s plateau and looking down into Shrapnel Valley or while walking amongst rows of grave stones, each with the name of an Anzac soldier who gave his life on the battlefield. I have gained a deeper understanding into the sacrifices of the Anzacs, some of whom were only a couple of years older to us. It made me think that we could have been here as soldiers, nurses or stretcher-bearers, walking these same ridges 95 years ago. It was also challenging for me to change the green valleys, the beach, the trees and blossoming flowers in the cemeteries into horrific battle fields. It seemed unreal that such a tranquil place was once the scene of a war campaign. As for Istanbul, it is one of those cities that you never forget. Whether I was running through the cold cobbled streets at 6 am or beholding the Blue Mosque decorated with lights at 10.30pm, I was always wondering why I had never thought about coming here before. Our visits to the historic mosques, Topkapi palace, the spice market and of course the Grand Bazaar were spectacular.
The hardest thing for me was returning home and trying to explain this trip in words – ‘amazing’ doesn’t seem to do enough justice. The Simpson prize trip is unique – it is an experience that I have shared with seven close friends and it has taught me so much. I won’t forget our karaoke in the bus, the tracksuit obsession, an offer of 75 camels, belly dancing down the corridor or those other amazing moments spent with Zoe, Chelsea, Connor, Lauren, JP, Hayley and Gene. I miss all of you so much, but we are all Simpsonites and so it is impossible for us not to meet again in the future.