At just 18-years-old, Pieter Durman from Guernsey is already building a name for himself - having set up the Future Generations: Environment and Sustainability conference last year which was attended by deputies and influential figures.
The high achiever and active member of the performing arts community is proud to be known to his friends as "Pieter from Guernsey", and he's shared with us some enduring thoughts about his island home.
1: “There’s nothing to do on Guernsey”
If I were a betting man I would say this sentiment would feature at the top of most young people’s remarks about our island. It seems to be the universally held opinion that there is nothing to do on Guernsey and the closure of the bowling alley seemed to only fuel the fire. However, despite the tragic lack of rollercoasters and water parks I would put it to you that as a young person on Guernsey the opportunities you have are on par with, if not better than, many parts of the UK.
For such a small community we punch well above our weight in many areas from sports to the arts and this is evident by some of our recent sporting achievements and the wealth of talent clearly demonstrated every year at events such as the eisteddfod. I have been active in the performing arts scene for over a decade now (saying that makes me feel old) and to this day I keep discovering new groups which just goes to show how much is going on. If a thespian lifestyle doesn’t sound appealing there is a plethora of sports teams and groups, full of dedicated coaches giving up their time for young people.
Quite frankly it would be an injustice to name specific groups and organisations here as I am sure there are many more I am unaware of (a testament to the opportunities available). If someone in the know could build a website listing every team, group or opportunity available to all islanders young and not quite so young this would not only allow us to take greater advantage of what we have here but also go a long way to dispelling the myth that, “there’s nothing to do on Guernsey.”
Pictured: Beau Cinema nights held at Beau Sejour.
2: The Observatory
One of the somewhat lesser known but fantastic resources that I believe more islanders should take advantage of is the Observatory, run by the Astronomy section of La Société Guernesiaise. For those who have never seen Saturn and its rings through a telescope I highly recommend going along to one of the summer open evenings, on top of some great visual astronomy you will find members only too happy to share their wealth of knowledge with you. And for the keener astrophysicists amongst you, why not become a member? A friend and I spent most of our Tuesday evenings for the past two years learning to use the equipment while exploring both classical and cutting edge scientific concepts through group discussions at the observatory. If you are a young person who is interested in science I would strongly advise you to go along to a few sessions, not only would it make your UCAS application stand out, but you will gain a better understanding outside of the school curriculum.
Pictured: You can truly appreciate the night sky from Guernsey's rural observatory in St Peters.
3: The Power of a Coffee
And no, this is not about coffee’s ability to alleviate sleep, powering though the night to meet that essay deadline, though I cannot confirm or deny this fact. It is about how meeting for a coffee can be a great platform to find common ground and decide on a course of action to move towards a shared vison. I experienced the power of the coffee first hand when organising Future Generations: Environment and Sustainability where we needed to enlist the support of community and industry leaders from around the island, a rather daunting task for a plucky group of 17-year old A level students. I discovered quite quickly that our passion for the environment was shared by many of these professionals and after establishing this common value over email we set up face to face meetings. Over a coffee we had the full attention of the person we were meeting, a luxury it would be unrealistic to expect purely over email, this allowed us to communicate our ideas, find common ground and agree on a path forward that would be beneficial for all involved. Now to bring this all back to Guernland, I believe on our island this is the perfect mechanism to get things done. We found that even as young people we got the support of distinguished members of the community. So, if you want to get something done, go get a coffee.
Pictured: Talking over coffee rather over email can work wonders.
4: Cheaper flights
A point I’m sure everyone will raise, but it is incredibly frustrating when some of my peers from European countries can get home for a quarter of the price I can. I am aware of the challenges of this and I certainly don’t have the solution, but it would be amazing if someone can find a way to provide cheap return flights.
Pictured: Aurigny one of the airlines which operates in the islands.
5: How lucky I am to have grown up in Guernsey
Guernsey has been the home of my childhood and I can now confirm that my heart does in fact long for thee. Since starting university I have a come to realise how lucky I am to have grown up in such a beautiful, friendly place with so many opportunities. And I am not alone in my new-found appreciation of our island, almost without fail my peers who flew the nest with me last September have come to similar conclusions. I have had multiple friends independently tell me that their new classmates have picked up on just how much they talk about Guernsey, a demonstration of how highly we regard it. Amongst some of my new friends I have acquired the nickname “Pieter from Guernsey”, a title I carry with pride, especially given that others have obtained somewhat less complementary names. Never has the phrase you don’t know what you have till it’s gone rung so true. So, my parting message to all Guerns but especially young people, appreciate what you have and take every opportunity you can, À la perchoine.
Pictured: Proud to be a "Guern".
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