International exchange begins

Canadian exchange ... Megan Dame (left) and Elizabeth Bielaia.
Canadian exchange ... Megan Dame (left) and Elizabeth Bielaia.

An education trust in Sleaford has welcomed an exchange student from Canada as it looks ahead to seeing one of its own visit the vast North American nation in return.

After two flights, a bus ride, and a train journey, Yelyzaveta (Elizabeth) Bielaia, 17, of Regina, arrived in Sleaford the week before last for the exchange programme.

Building international links ... Megan Dame (left) and Elizabeth Bielaia.

Building international links ... Megan Dame (left) and Elizabeth Bielaia.

Elizabeth is here in pursuit of a gold Duke of Edinburgh’s (DofE) International Award and is being hosted by the Robert Carre Trust (RCT).

Born in the Ukraine and having also lived in Israel before settling with her family in Canada, Elizabeth’s love of travelling and a long-held wish to see the UK prompted her to apply for the exchange. A significant involvement in her community then made her application stand out.

She is the second exchange student the RCT has received from Canada through the DofE International Award, following on from the first last year.

This year, though, a student from the trust has the chance to undertake the return part of the exchange. Kesteven and Sleaford High School student Megan Dame, 18, of Welbourn will be spending nine days in the Saskatchewan province of Canada to help achieve her own gold award.

As part of this visit, she will attend a DofE International Award conference.

Mel Walker, Duke of Edinburgh Coordinator with the trust, said: “The application process for this exchange was arduous, and Megan had to write a number of short essays on her own DofE journey, explaining her suitability; she also had to collect references, and their content is testament to her character. She has battled illness to complete her bronze and silver awards, and her gold is now in touching distance! It is wonderful to see the development that the DofE Award scheme has given her, from a shy 14-year-old to a bright, confident, happy young woman with a lot of ambition.”

She added: “We wish Megan the best for a fantastic trip to Canada, and thank the Colin Batt’s Family Fund for the sponsorship to enable this incredible opportunity.”

Since Elizabeth’s arrival to Sleaford, she and Megan have spent time together, getting to know one another, with Megan also preparing Elizabeth for her upcoming expedition to the Yorkshire Dales.

They will meet up again in Canada next month and pave the way for future exchanges between the RCT and the Saskatchewan Division of the DofE International Award.

Megan said: “I am extremely honoured to be a part of this exchange and feel that this is such a great opportunity. I look forward to visiting Canada for the first time, making new friends and being part of a large DofE event.”