International Award Ceremony at OIS

OIS had the privilege of welcoming the Duke of Bragança to the school on Wednesday 23rd September 2015 for the presentation of the Bronze, Silver and Gold medals. The International Award has high merit because it encourages the participants to commit to a variety of activities over a sustained period of time, all of which help to develop character.

The skill section pushes the participant to take up a new talent, such as Public Speaking or learning to play a musical instrument. It makes one aware of attention to detail and the discipline required to progress. The sport section allows the participant to improve individual and teamwork skills in a sporting environment and of course improve fitness levels. The service section requires the participant to make sacrifices and more importantly to think of others less fortunate than themselves. As they progress through the levels of the Award, the Service needs to be more meaningful. The expedition highlights the importance of the collective, where no individual is more important than the group. It places the participant in situations that maybe difficult and extremely challenging, in which he/she may be out of their comfort zone but they will learn a lot about themselves and gain experiences that will help them in this journey through life.

And this is the real importance of the International Award. Raul Girbal and Luisa Mandacaru both received their Gold medals at the ceremony and yes, it will look good on their CV and the Universities and Companies will view their achievements extremely positively. But the real merit of the Award are the experiences of life they will gain from doing it. Raul and Luisa will always remember and cherish the time they were able to spend and make a substantial difference to the disadvantaged children their worked with at the Casa Pia camps in Areia Branca, Lourinhã.

The Bronze and Silver participants, who have received their medals will all have memorable experiences and will hopefully continue the journey in the quest for the Gold Medal. We can compare it to climbing a mountain. The Bronze participants with thirteen weeks commitment in their activities and a two day expedition of twenty five kilometers over two days and one night are in the foothills of the mountain. The Silver participants with twenty six weeks commitment in each activity and a more challenging expedition over three days and two nights have just reached base camp.

These participants, if they follow the example of Raul and Luisa, both committed and dedicated but also thoughtful, conscientious and humble, can reach the top of the mountain and fulfill the challenge of the Gold Medal? Fifty two weeks commitment in each of the activities, with focused goals in each, an extremely challenging expedition in wild countryside over four days and three nights, and a Residential Service Project over five days and four nights is not for the faint hearted but our students can succeed. The mountain climber doesn’t give up half way up the mountain just because it’s getting a bit tough, they persevere and continue to the top. I look forward to lots of Gold Medals being presented at the next International Award Medal Ceremony. Best wishes and good luck to you all.

Neale Davies


Neale Davies

Duke of Edinburgh Coordinator