АLbena Dimitrova and Raya Radenkova from the 11th grade were among the twelve Bulgarian students who received their gold badges and certificates at a solemn ceremony, during #Forum2022, in the company of Prize representatives from around the world, leaders in the field of education and business, as well as the special presence of the Chairman of the International Foundation for the Duke of Edinburgh's Prize - N.K.V. Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex. The ceremony took place in the Romanian city of Cluj-Napoca on October 13, 2022, with the special presence of the Romanian royal family, represented by H.K.V. Queen Margaret and Prince Radu, as well as in the presence of the Prince of Luxembourg, HRH Prince Guillaume. The royals congratulated the participants and gave them special attention at a gala dinner after the awards.
The Duke of Edinburgh's International Award is a youth personal development program established by Prince Philip in 1956. It is recognized worldwide as a symbol of development and commitment demonstrated by the youth participating in it. FPMHS is one of the first schools in Bulgaria that has been working on this program ever since it came to our country in 2014. We already have participants who are leaders, and the current "gold" group was supervised by our graduate, who also achieved the Gold level, and who continues to work in the Award with students of FPMHS - Mr. Valeri Genev.
Here is what the award-winning students and their leader and supervisor have to say:
Raya Radenkova, 11th grade at PCMH, winner of a gold badge:
"My whole experience during these 4 years of taking all 3 levels of the Award was full of mixed emotions. At first, I started thinking it would be something fun and interesting, and then it turned out to be just that. Each one of the 6 adventure trips was accompanied by many complaints, surprises, adventures and most of all, amazing moments with this team. There were times when I wondered if it made sense. Well, it makes sense. On our first real trip, we slept in tents, barely sleeping at night because we were freezing. After that, I thought a lot about whether I wanted to continue at all, but I told myself that I had started it and I would finish it. Each subsequent one was more difficult, but with more games of belot, campfires, telling all kinds of stories and playing games. During the day ,as you walk, you can think about 100 times how you want to stop, go home and never move out of bed again, but you realize that there is an end, you will take the backpack off your back and go to bedto rest и then yes you continue with renewed strength, as it happens in life. The memories and amazing experiences with these people will remain forever. Right now I can't imagine what I would be doing if it wasn't for the Award. She taught me both teamwork and how to navigate the mountains, as well as dedication, responsiveness and persistence. Thank you so much to each of my mentors and even more so to my leader @Kameliya and supervisor @Valerie, without whom I would not have gotten this far.”
Albena Dimitrova, 11th grade at PCMH, winner of a gold badge and Ambassador of the Award at school:
"The reward for me was an adventure filled with many emotions, challenges and lifelong friendships. I am extremely happy that I had the opportunity to participate and complete all three levels. I learned so many new things - from cooking, playing the piano, all the way to map and compass orientation and generally surviving in the mountains, which was a challenge for me. Of course, I learned to work in a team (one of the most important skills for a successful Adventure Travel), I met a lot of different people, most of whom we are now very good friends with, I became much more confident in myself when I saw , that all these efforts have been worth it and I can achieve everything I set my mind to. Rewards are part of completing each level. My last award was for Gold Level in Romania when I had the opportunity to speak with HRH Prince Edward, the Royal Family of Romania and HRH Prince Guillaume. This of course would not have been possible if it were not for my mentors, supervisor Valerie, who was with us on every Adventure Trip, and my leader and class teacher, Kamelia Tsanova (Miss Kami), who helped me every step of the way to accomplish each a goal of mine. After getting the last badge I continue to upgrade my skills. I am also now an ambassador for the Award in our school and I hope more and more children will join the program because what you get from your Award lasts a lifetime and is a wonderful opportunity for any teenager. In the future, I would also like to train as a Leader so that I can further encourage young people to sign up, and if I can be of service to them, I would be truly happy, because the Award really does make dreams come true and is worth it.”
Valerie Genev, Supervisor of PP in the Award:
"The first thing I felt when I found out that the girls had finally gone to Romania and completed the Award was pride. It gives me great joy to know that they have finally made it through all the levels of the program. I am happy to know that they had the patience and will to deal with it despite the countless hardships they were put through over the years. Impressed and extremely grateful that some of them dared to step out of their comfort zone many times to go on their adventure journeys. To this day, I remain impressed by their group dynamic and the ease with which they overcame the adversities they had to go through. It is a real honor and pleasure for me to know that I was given the opportunity to support them, help them, communicate with them and watch them grow as mountaineers. I owe countless thanks to Raya, Plamena, Albena, Ralitsa, Daria and Emilia for these incredible few days in the Balkans of Vratsa. Thanks for creating unforgettable stories. I wish you ease in all your other endeavors, and hopefully we can go hiking again sometime, but this time without the burden of research requirements.
Your infinitely humble supervisor Valerie”
Kamelia Tsanova, Leader in the Award:
"I became a Leader in the Award because I recognized in this program all the values and skills that I try to pass on to my students from FPMHS, especially organization, responsibility and independence. I am extremely proud of my first participants, students from my then 8th and now 11th grade, who despite their young age and the extremely complicated situation around the pandemic of COVID-19 made it through all three levels of the Award as well as through the Gold level final project. They are an extremely strong girl group, young ladies whose successes we have yet to hear about. Benny and Raya and I were at the ceremony in Cluj-Napoca, and Plami was involved in another project at the same time, so he will receive his badge very soon here in Sofia. All three girls worked extremely hard, dedicated and seriously. They have literally grown up before my eyes as I have taught them for many years, and I am immensely proud of the successes they are achieving. Albena Dimitrova was able to overcome herself and go on adventure trips, which were initially difficult for her, and which became her favorites. Raya Radenkova learned how to speak in front of an audience and present herself confidently, which was the only thing she still hasn't achieved - she has been in FPMHS since the fifth grade and is living proof that nothing is too complicated if you want to do it. Both would like to become Leaders in the Award, which also makes me extremely happy, because continuity in this program is also continuity in FPMHS - our former students work with current ones, thus building a network of contacts for assistance. Benny and Plami are now Award Ambassadors at the school and their Adventure Travel supervisor, Valerie Genev, is a FPMHS graduate who has achieved all three levels of the Award.
I cannot help but mention the names of Eng. Marijana Vlachkova and Mrs. Margarita Krasteva, whom we tragically lost last school year, but thanks to whom we have the opportunity to work on this program. The gold badges of this group are also dedicated to their memory.”