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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAlex Sarantakos has been The Duke of Ed Award Leader at The Riverina Anglican College for many years. He has continuously worked alongside each participant, helping them overcome obstacles, achieve their awards and take part in some incredible opportunities. One such opportunity for prospective Gold Participants has been to travel to the Island of Isabel in the Solomon Islands.

For participants to be prepared for the daunting trip they needed to be physically and mentally ready. The right drive and determination needed to be sustained whilst maintaining the usual commitments and school work.
A great difficult when such an exciting opportunity is on the horizon!

Determination and Preparation Were Key

"The Participants needed to have a good level of determination as they were having to fit in activities and preparation leading up to the travel along with their other school and community work...before the trip they had to create a lesson plan to teach at the school on the island and come up with a 20 minute media presentation of their life as an Australian teenager which they presented," said Alex.

The students also took part in fundraising activities to subsidise part of their travel costs and to purchase necessary resources for the trip. On top of that some of the fundraising was raised for local charities so as to support the local community.

The students left for the Solomon Islands during their semester break and came back having learned a great deal about the culture, customs and nature of the island. For each participant, this was the first time they had ever been in a community where their hosts had next to nothing of the luxuries which they enjoyed all their life. Such fundamentals like a refrigerator or an oven were nowhere to be seen. Even the food they ate came from their own physical efforts, not that of a supermarket. Meat, vegies and fruit had to be caught, harvested and prepared within the day.


Travelling across the islands, swimming in the oceans and playing with the villagers proved to be a joyous and unforgettable time. Friendships were created and newfound skills were learned. The students also delivered a variety of programs which they developed and taught to the local school students.

Alex said that they each had a role to play in their team and although the team were shocked by the lifestyle which seemed so primitive and traditional, they wished to stay for a much longer period of time.

"The participants came back with so much more appreciation for life, and although it has taken a lot of work, we proved that it is achievable...it was incredible to see them take that sense of ownership over a project so big."