Gold Award Achiever
I entered the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award program looking for an adventure - a journey throughout which I could challenge myself, and ultimately, acquire many skills and ever-lasting experiences that I would carry for many years to come. Though having always excelled at school, I knew there was much more to be gained from my community and much more I could understand about my own capabilities. The program gave me the initiative to learn more about and give back to my community, while at the same time encouraging me to step outside my day-to-day urban lifestyle and explore the wilderness, acquiring an even greater appreciation for the city I live in.
The program also allowed me to follow a balanced lifestyle despite my rigorous studies as I made commitments to high-tier sports teams and to advancing in my conservatory music studies. As I advanced in these areas I also acquired the confidence and motivation required to teach others and to pass on what I knew to other people who shared equal interest in learning new skills. While I grew as a person, so did my desire to do all I could to give back to my community, whether it be raising awareness on environmental stewardship or giving free piano lessons to those who could not afford to pay.
My Adventurous Journey for my Gold Award was definitely one of my most memorable Duke of Ed experiences. I am certified in various wilderness survival skills and have gone wilderness camping many times, but never had I been on a kayaking expedition where everything I needed for a four day wilderness journey would have to fit in one small-sized kayak hatch. Being in a group of several Duke of Ed participants proved to be a very large asset for we often had to push each other against harsh sea currents and help each other quickly pack or unpack before the sun set and we would no longer be able to do, well, anything in terms of survival. Team work was a large part of this journey for me as we moved from site to site, and I ultimately learned what I was capable of and that I could often rise as a leader in stressful group scenarios.
While I am overjoyed and proud to have finished the program, a part of me misses the feeling of satisfaction
after having filled out a particular section in the record book; rushing after a supervisor, for instance, after having finished a volunteer shift and feeling accomplished for the remainder of the day. However, I have also learned that giving back to the community should by no means only be a commitment to any particular program; rather it should be the desire of an individual to pay it forward to their communities and to those who can benefit from our help, which is most important. This remains one of my greatest realizations throughout the program.
-Nick Habbibi, British Columbia
"Giving back to the community should be the desire of an individual to pay it forward to those who can benefit from our help, which is most important. This remains one of my greatest realizations throughout the program."