In adolescence, our dreams begin to take shape and turn into reality. Everything we wanted in childhood, we can get and experience now, while following our own path to the future. With patience, enthusiasm and perseverance, we can now lay the first bricks for that future construction which is us , the ones I’ve been dreaming about for so many years.
Of course, our development path is not an easy and smooth one and this is the first time for us to learn that life itself is a war that we can win step by step, battle by battle. As long as we do not miss our goal and the desire to move forward, we will certainly identify the most appropriate ways to win.
But what does “our growth” mean exactly? Many of us can be a bit confused, misled by the grandeur of words, frightened by the thought that they must act beyond their powers.
For them, here’s a nice short story: a wise gardener sowed some vegetable seeds, as he would do every spring. This time, he was accompanied by his grandson, a smart boy who saw for the first time what gardening meant. When his grandfather finished his work, they went back home. The next day, the boy went to see vegetables already ripe in the garden. But what a disappointment … The place was as lifeless as it was on the previous day. No sign of vegetables whatsoever. The boy came back home confused, but did not ask anyone about it. On the third day he went there again… unfortunately he found the same sad, lifeless garden, without any trace of aromatic vegetables at all. This time he no more could hold back his tears and went to his grandfather to tell him that the seeds they had shown a few days before were not good at all, because they neither rose nor turned into vegetables. Listening to the little boy’s complain, the old and wise gardener laughed, took his nephew’s hand and went back in the garden: “Look, this is the place where we sowed the seeds, isn’t it? ” he asked his nephew . “Yes, but there’s no plant… it’s only dirt”, said the child in tears. “Though, there is something” the grandfather assured him. “Every seed needs time, good soil, light and our love in order to turn into plant and a vegetable later on. Just as you need time to grow up, so do our seeds. We don’t have to push anything, we don’t have to pull the leaves up to grow faster … we wouldn’t do anything else but kill them. Instead, with love and attention, we can help them become the plants that we love so much.” The child took a second look and he noticed indeed tiny green threads rising bravely out of the black and moist dirt. “They’re growing up, Grandpa… look, they really are,” he shouted happily. Then, in the next few days, he carefully watered the seedlings which were growing up more and more. Few months later, when the tomatoes, peppers and eggplants were perfect for picking, he accompanied his grandfather in the garden to enjoy the fruits of his hard work in the last several months. In this way, the child learned the lesson of patience, perseverance and love. Grandpa only helped him to understand the goal of their work while time and knowledge simply did the rest.
Just like those seeds, teenagers are tomorrow leaders’ foreshadowing. No matter how much adults ignore them, eventually they have to acknowledge their freshness, intelligence and beauty.
The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award
How can a teen grow? How can he get rid of all those harmful temptations of our time?
When they cannot do this by themselves, there is a wide range of programs to support and help them with their work of self-discovery. A simple search on the internet reveals a lot of alternatives, more or less helpful. Some programs, however, are true revelations. Upon graduation, teenagers do not only turn into new persons, but they also learn about themselves more than if they had stayed at home, with their family and close friends only.
The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award is such a programme including members and volunteers from all over the world. This programme proves us that before believing that we’re totally independent, we need to know that we’re all interconnected by our human nature itself. No one has succeeded in life by themselves, no matter how much they would claim it. There is always somebody to thank for our achievements: family, friends, colleagues, partners, bosses, teachers, etc. Every single person who goes in and out of our lives is a lesson. And The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award represents one of the most beautiful lessons about friendship, growth and success. Under the patronage of the Duke of Edinburgh, the programme is a warranty of quality by the energy it conveys and the lifetime friendships which are born here.
Organized on three levels thought as stages of evolution (Bronze, Silver, Gold), the program is a wonderful alternative to the national education system for young people between 14 and 24 years, it changes lives, showing the world persons with strong personalities and hearts open for love and understanding. With this program, young people with difficult backgrounds, fighting against social stigma, have benefited not just a simple guide to their evolution, but also the life they have always wanted.
Do not hesitate to search for such personal growth programs, as you are the ones who know the best what you need to become the adults you want.
Be open and meet new people and experience different cultures: this is a part of your heritage and a great premise to build a successful career.
Apart of the advantages that the Award is offering to young people through the development of interaction, socialization, communication with different people, the programme represent the hard work of hundreds of adults involved in different levels in order to support young people who want to learn more about themselves.
The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award is just one of the programs that we have discovered and deserved our attention. If you know and other similar programs, if you have collaborated as volunteers, leaders, coordinators or simply have learned about them from different sources, please list them here to help young people around the world to choose the most suitable way for their development.
Looking forward to your opinions!
Photos: courtesy of The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award Romania