sandra Normand

After a generation of teaching Languages across Europe (including the UK!) and in Kenya, I met my inspiring British husband, Duncan Filer, who had travelled as an Army Medic in our “late summer years”. Our passion for trekking and nature brought us together and took us to Borneo, where we are fortunate to both teach at an International School. Our real lives, though, happen at weekends, when we accompany Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award Bronze, Silver or Gold students on Teaching, Practice, Expeditions or Exploration hikes through the primary jungle of Temburong, to the north of the island. The International Award global project, across 130 countries, has this unique way of bringing out the best out of 14-24 year old youngsters, beyond the classroom, as they support their local communities through Service, turn the dial up on their physical fitness and develop as a resilient community who enjoys Togetherness, Nature and Conservation Projects as fewer and fewer young people have the opportunities to do. Since 1956, “tomorrow’s empowered adults” have been coached by dedicated volunteer Award Leaders to follow the visionary project founded by the venerable Duke of Edinburgh, our Prince Philip. As confinement and online school still affects 168 million pupils across the world, it is even more crucial to continue fostering young people’ s physical and mental health by trusting they can make a big difference through their engagement. Although I came to the Award as a French foreigner and an adult, I felt embraced and it transformed me on so many levels that I want as many young people to experience this belonging, get (re)centered on worthy life changing initiatives and become “World Ready” as the best, well rounded version of themselves. Thank you for sharing the lessons learnt at Gordonstoun with so many of us: your legacy will continue through and beyond us all.