Earlier this summer, two GSCM Girl Scouts, Sally and Molly, traveled to Chicago for the Girls’ World Forum, the third and final in the series of Young Women’s World Forums, WAGGGS’ international centenary events. At the GWF girls and young women aged 14 to 18 years old came together from all over the world to discuss and develop action steps to address three of eight UN Millennium Development Goals that were selected by girls for World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS):
- MDG 1: Eradicate Extreme Poverty and Hunger
- MDG 3: Promote Gender Equality and Empower Women
- MDG 7: Ensure Environmental Sustainability
About 500 participants from 90 countries and 82 Girl Scout councils were in attendance. Girl Scout Sally shared some of her experiences from the event with us:
A few weeks have passed since my experience at the Girls’ World Forum in Chicago, and I’ve had the opportunity to take in all the wonderful and amazing people, events, activities, and various other components that made this excursion one that I’ll never forget. Since my week in Chicago, I have been inspired to change the world, and I honestly feel that I, along with many others, can accomplish something astounding, and not just locally, but worldwide.
The first day seemed to be an introduction to not only the forum, but the city of Chicago itself. The city was magnificent. I don’t recall seeing a single ugly building, and so many of them shot into the sky! The water was gorgeous. It’s not that blue in Maryland, I’ll tell you that. Everything was very well-kept, and the populace was so kind and welcoming. The whole environment was just so calm and enjoyable; we almost forgot we were here on business!
The next day began with an opening ceremony where beautifully-spoken women came up one after the other to welcome everyone to this once-in-a-lifetime experience! Each council of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts were represented with a flag brought up onstage in a large procession.
]Once the ceremony concluded, everyone separated into their “Take Action Sessions” where girls discussed the Millennium Development Goals. Each day was focused on a different goal. I remember sitting around a large circular table along with girls from California, New York, Hungary, Texas, Yemen, India, Bangladesh, Georgia, Antigua and Barbuda, Jordan, and numerous other Middle Eastern countries. What amazed me was every individual perspective each of the girls brought to the discussions.
Every day, a presentation was planned to introduce and explore the goals and their impact on the global community. Afterwards, the sessions would meet to discuss the topics and brainstorm ways to solve the challenging task at hand.
My roommate came all the way from Benin, Africa. How cool is that? Her name was Manuella, and she didn’t speak any English. However, she was a native French speaker, and I did take French as a course in school, so we were able to have simpler conversations verbally. I eventually got tired of the generic “How are you?” and “Where are you from?” and decided to take it up a notch. I brought out my laptop and went to Google Translate. We spent the rest of the week rapidly typing back and forth, learning about eachother’s homes, families, life styles, Girl Scouting and Girl Guiding experiences, you name it. This was definitely one of my most memorable parts of the trip, because I made lasting friendships with girls from around the globe, and it’s truly amazing how powerful a computer can be! To this day, Manuella and I still e-mail each other, and I keep in touch with a lot of the other girls through e-mail and Facebook.
We visited the Brookfield Zoo twice, where we learned about deforestation, water conservation, and climate change. After a number of interesting presentations regarding the FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) and RSPO (Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil), they let us loose to explore the zoo and see the animals and attractions! We returned another day to help plant grasses at the zoo.
The fourth day was most likely my favorite day of the entire forum. After the regular sessions, everyone gathered in the huge conference hall for International Night! There were stations set up all around the perimeter of the room, where we visited and saw a little display of several councils and countries, and then picked up a trinket from each one! As a Marylander, Molly made small Black Eyed Susan’s for our display table. Also, everyone was dressed to represent their council! As you can see, we went with the Baltimore Ravens approach.
There were so many different traditional and festive outfits from all over the world! It was so beautiful and detailed! Definitely a night to remember.
My experience in Chicago was one that I’ll never forget for as long as I live. I learned much more than I could ever have imagined, made strong connections with people I’ll keep close to my heart, and even got to go on a wonderful adventure! I’ve been forever inspired by the stories and perspectives of the other delegates and political leaders, and I’ve been prepared for an entirely new escapade in my future that I’m not even aware of yet. All I need to do now is take all this knowledge and drive, and turn it into something remarkable.