They say you shouldn’t limit your challenges, but rather challenge your limits. Afterall, challenges are what makes life interesting, and conquering them makes life meaningful. And amidst these unprecedented times, overcoming the pandemic is the biggest challenge yet. You must improve and adapt – which is exactly what the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award and its determined participants did! The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award is a youth awards program founded in the United Kingdom in 1956 by the Prince Phillip, the Duke of Edinburgh. The program has since expanded to 144 countries, recognizing young adults for completing a series of self-improvement tasks geared towards personal growth and development. Amongst its 3 Award Levels, Bronze, Silver, and Gold, the latter requires an adventurous journey and residential project to be completed. The segment was based on the notion of taking people out of their comfort zones, but given the current circumstances, the module had to adopt the ‘new normal’.
As a part of the Duke of Edinburgh's International Award - Bangladesh, AIUB conducted the first-ever ‘Virtual Adventurous Journey and Residential Project’ for its participants in the Gold Level. From the 7th – 11th of April 2021, using the Microsoft Teams online application, 72 aspiring students of AIUB undertook the dynamic challenge of pursuing their goal of achieving the highest level of the prestigious award. The program was officially opened by Mr. Ziarat H. Khan, the Deputy Director of Student Services & Welfare at AIUB, followed by introductory sessions with the Award Leader, Mr. Mohammad Rifath Hassan, as well as the Award Instructors, Mr. Md. Rakib Aziz, Mr. Md. Mahmudul Islam, Mr. Mahfujur Rahman, Ms. Nazia Alfaz and Mr. Abul Hasnat. The program was planned for 5 days and 4 nights, where the awardees were divided in 9 groups, each confined to one room, with access to only each other on Google Meet.
The participants were tasked to make 11 reports, 1 research paper, 1 poster design, 1 video speech, 1 presentation, along with cooking daily meals twice a day, washing the dishes daily, cleaning the room daily, feeding the unprivileged, distributing spare clothes to the unprivileged, taking conceptual photographs, exterminating insects daily, engaging in physical exercise daily, participating in cultural activities, and of course, attending the progress meetings thrice a day. Each participant had to follow strict guidelines, successfully complete each challenge, and make a video of all their daily activities as evidence. Participants were also given 3 special challenges – cooking a meal with ingredients worth only 60 BDT, creating a video on the “Lost in the Jungle” where you only have a knife, matchbox, and a pot, and lastly, “Take the Challenger’, where each group had to challenge another group to complete a unique task. Every participant had to complete every task according to the set guidelines, with their performances graded by the Award Leader and Instructors.
Upon completion, Mr. Manzur H. Khan, the Director of Student Affairs at AIUB, inaugurated the cultural program, where all the Awardees performed, showcasing their talents. The results were published, declaring Group 2 as the 2nd Runners Up, Group 3 as the 1st Runners Up, and Group 1 as the Champions of the first-ever Virtual Adventurous Journey and Residential Project of the Duke of Edinburgh International Awards – Bangladesh at AIUB! All 72 participants had successfully completed the program, earning the Gold Level of the award, taking great pride in their perseverance to pursue development, betterment, and change.