Published: 19.01.2021

My name is Lucka Škopková and I would like to introduce you my DOFE story. The DOFE program has been a great challenge for me from the beginning in every way. Before I joined the programme in 2013, my focus was mostly on school. However, this changed very quickly with DOFE and I was given a new direction in many ways.

For example, I was motivated to take my riding to the next level and got my license, with which I started competing in park jumping. Through DOFE, I also started trying new things. At school I helped younger pupils with their learning and was part of various charity projects. I have always been very insecure about public speaking and found it very difficult to present in front of a class and speak in different ways to larger audiences. DOFE motivated me to join the student UN of our school. Here I worked on various projects and presentations and through this association I gained courage that I lacked before. In 2016, I attended the international conference of the Student UN in Bucharest and a few months later I started to chair our association. It was an incredible journey for me, which made me meet a lot of new people and made me realize the power one has when facing their fears. My goal was to inform other students about the importance, benefits and interest of the world of student UN, so I organised a one-day conference for one of the underclassmen. This conference showed how meetings are conducted and the important topics discussed during them. The biggest reward for me was the very positive feedback from both students and teachers, and most importantly, the fact that many new members joined and the Student UN Association was able to continue after I left for university.

One of the important parts of my DOFE story was my residency project, during which I went to King's College London for a two-week summer school. There I met a lot of amazing people who I am still in contact with today. Most of them were also DOFE participants, so it was great to share our experiences and stories with each other. This summer school, the people and the environment were such a great motivation for me that I promised myself that I would study here one day. In September 2017, I started my undergraduate studies at King's College, which I successfully completed with distinction in May 2020. DOFE has a lot of credit for this great achievement of mine. It has helped me not to be afraid and to start trying new things, and it has also benefited my application to study by showing my determination to face challenges, help others and focus on developing myself and my environment.

I have also encountered a number of challenges and obstacles in my activities. Sometimes it was difficult, especially during exam periods, to combine DOFE with my studies, but at the same time I knew I had certain commitments to keep. This taught me discipline and especially time-management, which are now indispensable for me. Our final expeditions were a challenge in themselves. We have climbed difficult routes, both on land and water, and faced various crisis situations. Each time was a test of our physical skills and mental toughness that made us seasoned backpackers and strengthened our friendships. I can also now proudly say that I can steer a canoe, use a compass and map, and set up a tent in minutes.

From my own experience, I can say that the DOFE program is really great and whoever participates will benefit from it for a long time. Thanks to DOFE, I have stepped out of my comfort zone and increased my self-confidence. Through my activities I have learned a lot about myself and have found the courage to face my weaknesses. The need to help others became a given for me, and after a long time I started to feel like an active and contributing member of my community. Within this program, one has the opportunity to develop, broaden their horizons and learn more about their surroundings, which is incredibly important for future integration into any collective. I can only recommend participation in the DOFE program with all ten hands to anyone!

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