Alongside this comfort, Dignosco was able to provide an exceptionally unique cultural and engaging experience. Dancing around the bonfire with the local community to their native Brushuski folk music and exchanging insightful life stories with all the children was undoubtedly the highlight
I was a stranger, amongst a group of 45 students. With nothing except apprehension for the 10 days ahead of me, I nervously sat in the coaster, departing Dignoscos Lahore’s office for an excursion to the Hunza Valley.
Growing up in California, I was conditioned to believe only the worst when it came to Pakistan especially its isolated northern regions: the high-level security threats and the lack of communication in such locations. Even though I ended up moving to Lahore, that fear never left me. The Karakoram is a secluded zone from the mainstream Pakistan but with Dignoscos secure coasters, satellite phones for communication when deep in the mountain, the security personnel (which included retired commandoes from the Army) and the office team- I began to feel otherwise.
This experiential learning program wasn’t like any other traveling experience: 10 days, countless adventures, no sleep. You are probably questioning the effort and strength needed to get through this trip, but rest assure every moment was worth it. This Summer program was an ideal pre-college experience. I wanted to be able to go somewhere where I could plug into a unique community, and through this I was able to do so. The Ismaili Hunza Community was extremely tolerant and welcoming. Their music, dance, attire, language and culture were not only unique but also inclusive.
This is where Dignoscos ELP team was able to provide a personalized experience. They have the expertise to understand the context you are coming from since these excursions are focused on pre-college teens. The numerous field counselors accompanying you on this trip, will guide you and mentor you as they all make it a personal mission to ensure that this expedition is insightful, eye-opening and memorable.
Our first stop was in Narran. We were staying at the breath taking PTDC hotel. As soon as we arrived we left for a workshop for river rafting along the Kunhar river. After detailed demonstrations and individual training from certified experts, we were divided into teams and we left for a daring battle in the crystal clear waters.
This was only the beginning of what was to come: an adventure of a lifetime.
We hiked along the great Karakoram Mountain Ranges, primarily the infamous peaks of the Passu Valley. As the trails weren’t constructed Dignosco ensured that we were accompanied by local experts every step of the way. As we trekked across the black glacier, the beauty that laid before my eyes left me breathless. Hiking on these challenging trails, pushed me to think about college and the 4 years’ experience that lay before me. The steep slopes, the narrow paths, the coarse trails and slippery ice made me realize the unexpected and tough journey of not only life but particularly of college. I was able to reflect on my life experiences as I witnessed the challenges nature posed at me. As I completed each trail and each rough patch I became convinced of my ability to encounter such challenges successfully.
Alongside such personal growth I was able to talk to dignosco counselors and fellows on how such trips could be integrated into our college applications, pitching ideas for potentials personal essays and going over our extra-curricular lists as a whole. The thought process, the engagement level and imagination was only elevated at such peaks; making this journey mesmerizing as well as informative.
At the end of our first trek, we rested along the Borith Lake at the Rakaposhi base camp where dignosco provided all of the students with state of the art facilities: comfortable tents, emergency lights, satellite connected mobile devices and good fresh food (the local vegetables and fruits were probably my favorite). Alongside this comfort, Dignosco was able to provide an exceptionally unique cultural and engaging experience. Dancing around the bonfire with the local community to their native Brushuski folk music and exchanging insightful life stories with all the children was undoubtedly the highlight.
We hiked through the mystic Khyber valley to conduct research on the endangered Snow leopards. We constructed a habitat for them, and built a predator proof corral for livestock as part of efforts to prevent the human carnivore conflict in the region that stems from attacks on livestock. We rocked climbed on the challenging mountains of Ghulkin Village, with the assistance of trained experts and safe equipment. We visited 2 local schools where I was able to converse with the students. I talked to them about their interests, aspirations and struggles they had to go through just to be able to go to school. We played football, cricket and ‘ king-stop’ with them, and we were also able to attend a talent night at each school as well. Being exposed to the beauty of their local culture, language, clothing and traditions was truly an invigorating experience.
Touring the famous Karimabad Bazaar and the renowned Altit and Baltit Forts further allowed me to delve within the rich local culture and history.
This was a challenging journey providing me with awareness and experiences of a lifetime, as well as allowing me to make countless friends and memories. These 10 days which I was afraid to get through, only ended up to be a trip that I’ll remember forever.
If you wish to be apart of an experience of a lifetime, if you are a travel enthusiasts from anywhere in the world reach out to Dignosco anytime to explore Pakistan, via their email: firstname.lastname@example.org or UAN contact:+92 42 11111 DIG
Eman Nazir is currently studying A levels from Lahore Grammar School and intends to do her undergraduate degree in Environmental Engineering