Girl Scouts Helen and Marie had the opportunity of a lifetime last month when they were invited by Girl Scouts of the USA to attend a briefing of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus on Capitol Hill in Washington D.C. At the briefing, they had the chance to present their Girl Scout Gold Award projects to members of Congress, congressional staff, and GSUSA CEO Anna Maria Chavez, National President Connie Lindsey, and GSUSA board members.
The girl’s projects focus on helping Burmese Chin refugee children learn American culture and customs to ease their transition into their new environment. Helen and Marie are implementing their projects later this summer at a four-week day camp with the help of volunteers they recruited.
Marie’s project, entitled Bridging Cultures, “helps the children learn about American traditions, customs and culture so they can understand some things we take for granted,” she said.
Marie gave the example of raising your hand in class as an American custom that is foreign to the children. “One child that we had talked with before told us that he was in class and he really had to go to the bathroom, but he didn’t know that he had to raise his hand to ask permission. Raising your hand in class is something simple that we as American kids never think twice about, but that kids who aren’t from here may not understand,” she said.
Helen’s project, “English Kids 2 Kids” focuses on teaching the children English in fun and creative ways to improve their reading, writing, and speaking. She said kids work in groups where they play games and read together. “The participants in our camp seem to like learning in a peer-to-peer setting, from kids their age rather than adults always being the ones to teach them,” she said.
The girls said they loved the opportunity to share their projects with an important group of people. The girls admitted they were nervous but it must not have shown.
“The attendees said they thought we would be nervous but they said we were awesome. Connie Lindsey, GS USA’s National President, said we were rock stars!” Helen said.
“It was really fun, and we were really excited to speak. Connie Lindsey told us that we showed all the qualities should show that we had all of the qualities a Girl Scout should show—flexibility, time management, confidence and courage” Marie added.
Marie said one of her favorite moments during the presentation was when she and her sister were presenting her projects and said they taught some of the kids Girl Scout songs. “I started singing one of the songs and the Girl Scout CEO and the alumni, even the Congresswomen, started singing them with me,” she said. “The whole thing was a privilege. Kids our age usually don’t get to do things like this and I’m really happy we had the opportunity.
You can read more about Helen and Marie’s projects and experience on Capitol Hill in the summer issue of the Promise, coming soon.