Tuesday, July 17, 2012

A Week Girl Scouts and Girl Guides Won’t Soon Forget

Guest blog by Andrea Quintanar, who is a senior Girl Scout and Silver Award recipient who attended the Girls’ World Forum in Chicago. Andrea will begin work on her Gold Award in the fall.
Last night was our last in Chicago and I’m so sad that the Girls World Forum is over. By the time you read this, I’ll be flying home. I had so much fun this week—it was unbelievable. For the discussion sessions, we were split up into patrols of eight to ten girls each. We were able to have very deep, insightful conversations. Some of the topics were the three Millennium Development Goals the forum was focused on, as well as self-esteem, advocacy, and other issues. We grew so close to each other, including the facilitators.

We had three full days of sessions and also had some days outside the hotel. We went to the Brookfield Zoo to learn about environmental sustainability. We also went to Chicago Cares, an organization on the south side of Chicago that runs a community garden for the low-income residents. It was such a rewarding experience; we worked really hard, picking crops, shoveling compost and mulch, building an herb garden structure and planting the herbs. We got a lot of rain in the afternoon and we all ended up soaked, but it was worth it hearing from the volunteers how much our help was appreciated. We also went on a tour of Chicago on a double decker bus, which was a wonderful way to see the city.

Not everything about the forum was perfect, the communication was sometimes a bit off and the schedule sometimes got messed up. Despite that and the very tightly packed days, I was able to take a lot away from the experience. One thing was the way people spoke about their different countries and what a certain tópico meant to them. Another was what the keynote speaker at the closing ceremony said about how she had left her village in Africa in search of a good education and what giving back meant to her. I learned a lot from this event, and it’s given me a lot of material about what could be better in our world—and what we can do to make it happen.