Malich's Story

Gold Award Achiever

Gold Award Achiever I first head about the Duke of Edinburgh program through my High School (Lower Canada College) in Montreal, Quebec. Ever since I was a wee little boy, I had been going on yearly canoe trips, and competing in multiple sports, which mainly included sailing and skiing. However, I liked to stick with what I know, I loved sailing and I loved skiing so I stuck to them. 

Within the first year of the Duke of Ed program, I was already taking part in the highlight of my DofE career. I was already working on my residential project; I was taking part in a two-month exchange to Lima, Peru without even understanding or speaking the foreign language. 

The reason I bring this up is because this is where I learned one of the most valuable lessons. You’re not living unless you’re outside your comfort zone.  In my opinion Mark Twain is dead on when he says, “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” In my experience, the most enjoyable and memorable moments of my life have been when I had left my comfort zone, and if I am honest, saying yes to go on an exchange to a foreign country when I cannot even communicate the need to go to the bathroom in the language is far beyond my personal comfort zone, but I still said yes and I ended up learning that saying yes might not be easy but it is certainly rewarding.

During my final year with The Award, I was offered another fantastic opportunity from my school. I was given the chance to go to the Canadian Student Leadership Conference in Prince Edward Island, which to me didn’t sound like it would be the most interesting week, however, luckily because of past experiences with the DOE and my exchange to Peru I decided to go out on a limb and say yes. The conference was full of excited student leaders from across Canada who are brought together each year to try and learn and build off each other. Because of the Award program, I was a very enthusiastic and outgoing guy who was willing to just jump up and go talk to someone new and exchange ideas. 

Although it was my school that enlisted me in the program, I am very happy that they did. Because The Award program has helped me become a more outgoing and well rounded student who understands that sometimes you’ve just got to say to take a leap outside your comfort zone.

~Malich Altman, Montreal, Quebec

"This is where I learned one of the most valuable lessons. You’re not living unless you’re outside your comfort zone." Read More Stories