Each year we welcome over 2,500 students and staff from schools worldwide.
It is a slow, sunny afternoon on the Chao Phraya. The barge’s engine beats a triumphant rhythm against the wooden hull as we pull in to Piyawan pier for the last time. Harrow’s final group of Year 5s are waiting on the deck to disembark, bags ready, shoes on, journals full. “Have you had a good time?” comes the teacher’s call, greeted with a more or less synchronised chorus of Yesses and a few scattered cheers. One last round of applause for everyone, handshakes with the teachers as they leave, and the barge drifts free in to the main channel of the river, to chug happily homewards.
Four classes of Year 5s have been on the boat this year, their memories etched onto the deck as vividly as the barge is into their minds. A lost sock, a broken pencil and a light dusting of rice is all the evidence that Harrow were here at all, but the memories are bigger and longer-lasting than that. They created mighty watersheds, where rivers were born, flowed, sliced out valleys and drained into the sea all in a half hour. They searched through the tangled jungle of a water hyacinth plants’ roots to discover the creatures and monsters within. They created their own ancient civilisations on the banks of the river and watched them expand into global empires, thirsty for fresh water. All on the deck of a boat.
As the barge rumbles its way south, leaning and lumbering into the sunset, its five stars for Harrow: job well done, and a group of young minds inspired.