When Aoife started out on her Gold Gaisce journey she never imagined finding herself on a boat with 40 strangers sailing the seas of New Zealand. “Every day we would wake up at 6.30 and go for a swim in the sea. Then we’d have breakfast and clean the ship.”
Aoife admits the experience was somewhat surreal and something she never thought possible, “At first it was very surreal. On the ninth day we (trainees) took over the ship, elected a captain, plotted a course and sailed the ship with full sails up on our own with very little help from the professional crew.”
Through her amazing adventure Aoife admits she’s definitely become more confident and adventurous. “I never imagined myself climbing a mast or swimming in deep sea waters and I was nervous. But when everybody is doing it you don’t think about it and you just go for it.”
From initially receiving her Bronze Award up until now, Aoife credits the programme as having had a huge impact on her development as a person. “To be able to take something I’m interested in and put that to good use and help others is definitely something I’ve become more interested in.”
As part of her Gaisce journey to date Aoife has learned to play three musical instruments, coach and mentor kids through Irish dancing and she also creates clothes for premature babies which she donates to the Irish premature babies’ charity. On the subject of advice for students starting off on their Gaisce journey Aoife says they should ‘keep an open mind’. “You will find yourself doing things you never thought you would. I never went kayaking or on a tall ship but I just went for it.”
For participants thinking about going for Gold Aoife’s advice is to ‘find a buddy’. Someone who is on the same journey and who you can share ideas with and someone who will ‘keep you going’ to see the programme through.
Aoife is a sixth year student at Loreto Secondary School, Bray and hopes to move in to a career in medicine when she completes her education but says that the work she’s been involved with through Gaisce will stay with her, ““Even when I achieve my Gold Award I am going to stay involved with dancing and charity work which I would have never done but for my involvement with Gaisce.”