Alice and Linda: we are each other's mirror
"What is it that unites us? - The desire to learn, to develop, " Alice and Linda both say, even though they live different lives: While nineteen-year-old Alice Samková is getting ready to graduate in Ostrava, Linda Becková takes care of her family in Prague and is part of the HR team of the largest domestic gas distributor - GasNet. Both of these women's life paths intersected in 2021, when they both joined the Duke of Edinburgh's International Award. "DofE is about challenges, so if you are looking for something really meaningful while you're setting your New Year's resolutions, DofE will help you move forward," they say in an interview about their common journey…
So what is DofE about and what roles do you perform here?
Alice: DofE is an international project under the patronage of the British Royal Family. It motivates young people around the world to achieve personal goals in three areas: volunteering, physical activity and skills. I am one of the participants and my goal is to improve my Danish, swim regularly and help a foreign student in the Czech Republic working together with the non-profit organization AFS.
Linda: I'm Alice's leader and mentor. I'm kind of guiding her through the fun challenges she has set for herself. Together we look at how Alice is achieving her goals. I encourage her and help her find her own ways to meet the challenges.
How often do you see each other?
Linda: Once every 14 days, but because we come from different cities, we prefer online video meetings. Digital communication is the standard at GasNet and young DofE participants are also keen on this. Our meeting usually lasts half an hour and I spend about half an hour prior to it on calmly preparing myself. From the mentor's point of view, it is not consuming extra time but it is necessary to be professional. At the beginning of the mentoring, I went through a one-day DofE training where I learned how to do it and what is good to keep in mind when guiding the participant.
Why did you join DofE?
Alice: I spend a lot of time at school and it used to be hard for me to find room for hobbies. I just wanted to set aside more time for myself, for fun, and at the same time I wanted to try something that would push me forward. Something where a more experienced person would motivate me because when I tried to learn Norwegian in the past, for example, I gave up on it. My older sister and friends advised me to try DofE.
Linda: GasNet supports DofE's activities and when we were given the opportunity to volunteer to mentor, I went for it right away: At GasNet, I work in the recruitment and development department so I often communicate with young people I recruit for IT positions, for instance. I thought that DofE would show me another enriching point of view of their world. And I'm also actively interested in the field of mentoring so I saw another inspiring chance in this regard at DofE.
How do you rate your participation in DofE?
Alice: I'd say it's great. I swim regularly even in winter, which was hard for me to imagine before. I continue to help along with the non-profit organization AFS; furthermore I persisted in studying Danish and I have also completed a DofE adventurous journey together with my new friends. Linda helps me a lot with everything. She's acts as such a mirror to me and then I always realize how I've progressed during those 14 days.
Linda: Mentoring with DofE is an invaluable experience for people who want to inspire and lead others. Alice is very skilful so it makes it a lot easier for me. The great thing is that DofE enriches both of us. Sometimes I feel like I've become a participant too (laughs). It is ideal if the mentor also participates in some development activities. He/She then understands the participants better and is able to motivate them. It works so well in our case precisely because she studies Danish while I study Career Counseling and College Education; She swims and I run… Alice can share her feelings with me when she doesn't feel like doing something and I share my experience in what helps me overcome that. We complement each other perfectly. Before, I couldn't imagine running in the wintertime. And nowadays? I run almost 10 kms once per week.
Your final message?
Try DofE. You won't stagnate, you will start developing, you will gain new friendships and it will be fun.