Page 8 - FIS World November 2021
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Pushing Boundaries
The lasting reward of the Duke of Edinburgh Award
 A serene setting for Grade 12 DofE participants at the “Weisse Mauer” in the nearby Taunus
There is a place just on the other side of discomfort. For long distance runners, perhaps it is mile six when the stride relaxes into its own rhythm. For
backpackers, it’s the moment when the weight of the pack becomes part of one’s body and, therefore, no longer a burden. For the young violinist, it is the bow finally finding its proper place on the instrument and singing a pure and lovely sound. It is the athlete, whose shoulders ache with the repetition of a foul shot and who hears, at last, the whispered swish of the ball arcing perfectly through the net.
This destination is somewhat easy to spot and even describe, but it is nearly impossible to teach. It is, in some ways, the manifestation of grit and resilience. And the personal experience of it enables one to see the world and its challenges as not only surmountable, but also joyful in the pursuit. It is, somewhat ironically, the discovery of who we are and can be by pushing fiercely outside our own boundaries.
FIS students are frequently in the position to experience the profound gifts that arise from
persisting in the face of adversity, but there is one offering of the Upper School that takes this concept to another level: The Duke of Edinburgh International Award (DofE). Established in 1956 by the late Duke of Edinburgh KG, KT, in conjunction with the German Educationalist Kurt Hahn, the award promotes the pursuit of“worthwhile leisure activities and voluntary service”by young people who are seeking to“discover hidden abilities and overcome a challenge.” The Award’s first director, Lord Hunt of British India, was certainly able to embody this idea as, three years prior to his acceptance of the directorship, he had organized and led a team, including Edmund Hillary (not yet Sir), in the first successful summit of Mount Everest.
While the implementation of the Award program does not include such lofty heights, participating FIS students are challenged with an “adventurous expedition” in the surrounding wilderness that FIS DofE advisor and Award assessor and Upper School Math Teacher, Anne Flaherty, regards as “the pull” of the program for many students. While she
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