Expand your boundaries!

24. 11. 2022

To improve and grow. The DofE programme founded by the Duke of Edinburgh helps students from the University of Pardubice.

Some students go jogging or swimming, others learn archery or pick up waste in the countryside. They have one thing in common: they are looking for a challenge. And wish to engage in personal development. They are motivated by the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award programme with dozens of participants this year. “DofE is an informal educational programme for young people between the ages of 14 and 24. The programme helps their self-development and self-awareness by engaging in three categories of activities,” said Andrea Marie Krocová, a student of the Faculty of Chemical Technology.

Students work on specific skills, engage in volunteer work, or do sport. They choose one activity in each category in which they engage once a week for a period of six months or a year, depending on whether they aim for a Bronze, Silver, or Gold Award. “Personally, I am aiming for the Silver Award, and have chosen leading DofE at the University of Pardubice for the Volunteer section,” says Andrea.

 

Having one’s own bees

Beekeeping is the skill that Andrea wants to work on. She is assisted by her neighbour, who owns beehives. “I want to learn how to keep bees to be able to take care of my own bees and get honey. At secondary school, I attended a beekeeping club, which I enjoyed a lot. DofE is an opportunity for me to continue doing this,” says Andrea. As for the Sports section, she went for archery. Every week, she must practice with 24 arrows for at least an hour. Andrea sees it in her own way: “It means that I carry 24 lives in my quiver. I take inspiration from rangers that I I read about in the Ranger’s Apprentice book. Thanks to the books, I got an archery set as a Christmas gift,” says Andrea.

Andrea learned about DofE by accident. The company that makes her favourite jewellery made a brooch for the Countess of Wessex. Countess Sophie was wearing the brooch for the DofE Award Ceremony and the jewellery manufacturer posted the news on its website. “When I started studying at the University of Pardubice, I found out that the university was part of the programme. It was a stimulus to join the programme,” says Andrea who studies Chemistry. She started by aiming for the Bronze Award, which involved picking up waste in Czech forests, and she opted for photography as a skill. Her aim was to take photos of an ice-hockey match, and she succeeded. She ended up being the photographer for the Riders team for the entire season.

 

Learning sign language

Andrea is not the only leader of the programme at the University of Pardubice and cooperates with Kateřina Komorousová of the Faculty of Arts and Philosophy. “Because we, as leaders, have received some training, we approve the activities for the participants and help them set goals that are measurable and help them progress. The aim of DofE is not creating competition among students, but to determine one own’s progress,” says Kateřina. She practised swimming and dancing, did babysitting and learned sign language. “Some years ago, I watched a series about sign language, which sparked my interest. I enjoyed comparing American sign language and Czech sign language,” says Kateřina Komorousová.

Students who join the programme at the University of Pardubice engage in a variety of activities. Some do martial arts, yoga, meditation or learn to cook. “Some male students do cooking, which surprised me. They want to get better at what they can prepare in the kitchen” says Kateřina. After each award achievement, there is an adventurous expedition to the countryside together with other participants. “During our expedition, we will walk part of the Zittau Way and we will keep mapping how wheelchair and pushchair accessible it is,” says Kateřina.

These enthusiasts are motivated by a number of things, such as self-development, making progress and an easier start in their professional life. “The participants receive a certificate that they can include in their CV. Employers see that the graduates can engage in long-term activities and have stamina,” says Kateřina. The certificate is recognised internationally. In addition, the students receive a brooch at the ceremony.

AUTHOR: Lada Součková PHOTO Adrián Zeiner