【明報專訊】In a week or so, I will be camping with a group of friends for five days in Dartmoor National Park with no communication with the outside world. Why am I doing this?
I have to do it for the Expedition section of my Gold Duke of Edinburgh's Award, also known as the DofE.
Founded by Prince Philip in 1956, the DofE is a youth award programme which aims to recognise adolescents and young adults for completing a series of self-improvement exercises, which are divided into four sections: Physical, Skills, Volunteering and Expedition (there is a fifth Residential section for the Gold Award). It places an emphasis on your achievement outside the classroom and your full development into an adult — not just academic performance. For example, I write for the school magazine, which counts towards my Skills section; I do my Volunteering at a local Oxfam charity shop; for Residential, I need to spend five days and four nights taking part in a shared, meaningful activity with people I have never met before, so I might go to a summer school or help conserve wildlife in Borneo; for Physical I just have to do the sport at school.
While the DofE is only compulsory for the Bronze Award at my school, I have chosen to continue with it and would highly recommend it. It does what it says on the tin: it helps you fully develop into a better adult whilst having fun. Some universities (I would think American universities) might like it, others like Oxbridge could not care less. But that's not the point. Personally, my favourite part of the Bronze was the expedition; there's nothing like walking through the fields and the hills into the glittering golden sunset with your favourite people, and feeling like you've achieved something incredible and special afterwards.
Alice Sze is 17 and has been boarding in the UK for four years. She loves languages. Apart from Chinese and English, she studies Italian, French, Spanish, Japanese, Latin and Ancient Greek.