As part of celebrating our 60th Anniversary of the Award in Australia, Duke of Ed Vic are showcasing stories from our Participants about their Award journey and the impact it’s had on their lives. These stories help inspire others and help us encourage more young people to begin their Award.
Each month we run a draw of Participants who are interested to tell their Award story. The Participant who wins the draw becomes our Star of the Month. The Star gets their story featured here (as well as on our social handles) and wins a $100 voucher of their choice to spend at Ticketek, Kathmandu or Apple.
Interview with Award Holder Udeni - Star of the Month - June
This month’s winner of our Award Story Competition and Star of the month is Udeni Undugodage. Udeni is 16 yrs old and is from Balwyn High School in Melbourne. Udeni is currently completing her Gold Award.
Why did you decide to do The Duke of Ed?
There’re a few reasons why I decided to do The Duke of Ed. I first heard about the Award through my older sister, she had completed both Silver and Gold when she was in high school and she always spoke about all the amazing experiences she gained from doing it. My sister has always been my biggest inspiration so when I turned 14 I was very keen to get started. I also hoped I that by doing the Award I would also to inspire other young girls to give it a try. Additionally, I was already doing a lot of the activities, such as playing basketball and learning an instrument, so it made sense to just log the hours and do the extra work. I was also really looking forward to the challenge of the Adventurous Journey and now after completing it, I am so glad I stepped up to the challenge as I have now become a more resilient person because of it.
What did your Duke of Ed Award involve?
For my Physical Recreation, I did basketball. I had been playing for quite a while and it was something I do regularly and that I enjoy very much. Playing basketball then linked into my Voluntary Service activity as I became a basketball coach. In this role I was able to pass on my basketball knowledge by teaching and mentoring the younger players, which was very rewarding.
My Skill was playing the piano. When I began The Duke of Ed I had already been playing the instrument for a very long time. I was at AMEB year 7 standard, which is originally where I was planning on stopping. But doing The Duke of Ed made me push myself to keep going and achieve more. For the Adventurous Journeys, I did a 3-day long hike and camp at Wilsons Prom.
Lastly, for my residential project, I attended a week-long personal training camp on the theme of super skilled women. On the program, we focused on woodwork, plumbing, car maintenance and electrical and gas safety. I had never done woodwork before, so I learnt and developed many skills in that area. The final product was a toolbox, all made from scratch. I was also taught a great deal of information on car maintenance, including how to put fluids in the bonnet and how to change a car tire. It was a fantastic week and I am so grateful that I had the opportunity as a young girl to learn all this valuable information that has now made me a very independent and strong young woman.
What were the most memorable parts of your Award experience?
The most memorable part of my Award experience was the Adventurous Journey. For this, I went to Wilson’s Promontory to do a three-day hike and camp. I had to carry my tent, Tangier, food, water and clothes on my back for the whole camp, whilst hiking 15km a day. We would wake up at 5am and start walking all the way till 6pm, walking up a never-ending mountain without being able to see the finish line was hard and felt like torture. With the addition of a 20kg pack on my back, it was extremely difficult and with every step I took I was puffing, and my muscles were aching. This affected me mentally, as I struggled to keep a determined mindset. I have never in my life, ever come across something so hard to me, it was a truly physically and mentally grueling experience that really tested my limits. But, I did it. 45km, 3 days later, I made it back. I finished the hike and I have never ever been so proud of myself. And it’s from that, that the realisation came that I need to put myself out there more often, I need to be in more uncomfortable positions. Because it’s in those situations that I really thrive.
What was the biggest challenge during your Award Journey?
For many activities of the Award, such as volunteering, the Gold Residential Project and Adventurous Journey, I had to put myself in positions where I didn’t know anyone. It was quite hard for me to walk into a room, full of adults and students, and go and introduce myself. The same thing went for the camps I went on for my Gold Residential Project, I was meeting people for the very first time and then having to live with them for many days straight. It’s not the easiest thing in the world and especially beforehand it can be extremely daunting. But I did overcome this challenge and make friends! Plus I know this is a situation that I will be constantly faced with for the rest of my life, so better to start getting experience now, sooner rather than later!
What impact has the Award had on your life?
The Award has helped me develop many skills, such as resilience, communication and leadership. I gained communication and leadership experience through coaching youth basketball. It was an experience that tested my limits, as I had to communicate to young children and teach them new skills, whilst also communicating with parents about their kids -which can be a lot harder than you think! During this, I did face some quite hard times, dealing with some difficult people. But through these interactions, I was able to learn what to do for next time and how to appropriately deal with these types of situations. I believe these types of skills will be of huge value when I enter the workforce when I’m older.