Africa adventure for intrepid students

  • Taking the plunge: from left, Mackenzie Pearman, Busayo Salawu, Camille Chin-Gurret and Emily Sinclair retrieve a treasure chest left as a challenge at the Chengwana Falls in Zambia (Photograph supplied)

    Taking the plunge: from left, Mackenzie Pearman, Busayo Salawu, Camille Chin-Gurret and Emily Sinclair retrieve a treasure chest left as a challenge at the Chengwana Falls in Zambia (Photograph supplied)

Four intrepid female students have an unforgettable African summer to look back upon courtesy of The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award Bermuda.

The four travelled to Zambia for their Gold Award, volunteered during their time there, and hope to offer inspiration to other young Bermudians hoping to take advantage of the programme.

The local programme is overseen by Traci Burgess and Conor McLaughlin, who hope the girls’ story will highlight opportunities for others to “better themselves and the community both here and abroad”.

Camille Chin-Gurret, 17; Mackenzie Pearman, 18; Busayo Salawu, 16 and Emily Sinclair, 17, were pushed to their limits, Ms Burgess said, but together they reaped “an amazing experience for each of them to take a leadership role and carry each other through rough times”.

The Award’s adventurous journey and residential project taught skills from lighting a fire with flint, to navigating the Dambo marshlands with a map and compass through grass taller than their heads.

But the volunteering, including teaching and working with hearing-impaired and special-needs children, taught them more about themselves.

MacKenzie, formerly of Saltus and now studying at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology, conquered her “greatest fear” — the dark, and getting lost.

She added: “I have never experienced anything so difficult, but surviving taught me I can overcome adversity.”

Berkeley Institute student Busayo said she had come home from the July expeditions with a drive to get involved in volunteering.

“This trip was the difference between watching the people from an outsider’s perspective versus being a part of the full cultural experience,” she said.

Joining the communities meant wearing traditional Chitenge clothes and living with Zambian families.

Emily, of Mount St Agnes Academy, said she learnt how to keep her temper under pressure and “handle emotions during stressful and scary times”.

And for Camille, of Warwick Academy, the Award was a chance for tough self-reflection.

She said: “I don’t have my future figured out and I am still discovering myself. This experience has helped me become more dedicated to the important things like my family.

“I have developed an appreciation for the Zambian culture in that it is open, friendly and inclusive.”

The Award is available “free of charge to everyone between the ages of 14 to 24”, Ms Burgess said, and the exclusive Bermuda Bridge Award is offered in partnership with the Department of Education to all M2 and M3 public school students.

To learn more, contact the Award Office at 537-4868, or e-mail

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Published Oct 23, 2017 at 8:00 am (Updated Oct 23, 2017 at 12:10 pm)

Africa adventure for intrepid students

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