As I write, goodbyes are being said at the airport and our emerging leader delegates are heading home to their families around the world. They’ve just spent ten days in Korea, as guests of The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award Korea, learning what it means to be a leader in the 21st Century. They’ve examined their own individual leadership qualities and compared their own leadership styles with others. They’ve taken part in an extremely demanding task that has put their skills to the test: planning and making field visits in small multi-national groups to community projects in Korea; putting together a multimedia presentation with other members of their group, within a very small timeframe, describing what they’ve learned; and then actually making the presentation to a room of their peers and the International Council of the Award, chaired by HRH The Earl of Wessex. As one participant commented, “If X Factor or Idol are stressful, they have nothing to compare with the International Gold Event.”
The final presentations were, of course, excellent. They demonstrated how the Award, and non-formal education in general, can have a dramatic impact on individuals and the communities they serve – locally, nationally and internationally. They were funny, innovative, thought provoking and utterly inspiring – just like the delegates who were presenting them.
During the course of the International Gold Event, the delegates elected eight new representatives to the International Council. I’m looking forward to working with them over the coming triennium as we continue to work to grow the Award worldwide, both in terms of straight numbers and also the diversity of young people who are able to participate. And I’m also looking forward to hearing the stories of each of the International Gold Event participants as they work to do the same in their individual National Award Operators. It’s been a privilege for me to spend the last ten days with some amazing people. The future of the Award in each of their countries is certainly in excellent hands.