Thursday, January 16, 2020

What Annalise Discovered After Six Girl Scout Destinations

Annalise C., a Girl Scout alum from Girl Scouts Heart of New Jersey, attended six amazing different Girl Scout Destinations. Now a freshman at Northeastern University, she reflects on what these travel experiences have meant to her.

Tell us about the your most recent Destinations experience. 

Horseback riding through Mongolia was breathtaking. We saw rolling hills, mountains, grasslands, rivers, horses, cattle, sheep, goats, wild dogs, and yurts (properly called gers). It was so beautiful that many of us had to remind ourselves that the scenery was actually real and not a Microsoft Windows background. Life nowadays is so busy and overwhelming that it is hard to find time to appreciate the beauty in little things. In Mongolia, I was able to gain a better understanding of myself, others, and the world around me. I learned how to disconnect from technology and to make deep connections with nature and with others, all while learning about the fascinating Mongolian culture. Our meals consisted of warm mare’s milk and freshly prepared goat. Whether we were singing songs on the top of a mountain, galloping through the valleys, playing soccer with the Mongols, or sitting around a campfire, these experiences will last me a lifetime.

Is there a particular moment you can remember from one of your Destinations that illustrates for you why you feel travel is important? 

On my Destination to China, after arriving in Beijing after a 13-hour flight, we were supposed to have a short layover before departing for Chengdu. However, the short layover turned into over 24 hours. This incident was the first time in my life that everything was completely out of my control. Instead of sulking, we decided to take advantage of all that the Beijing airport had to offer us. We wandered around the nooks and crannies of the terminal. tried Chinese snacks, talked and bonded for hours, played with a group of local school children, and slept on the cold airport floor. In the end, I was glad our flight had been delayed. I learned how to go with the flow and be flexible with whatever life throws my way. Not to mention, I made memorable friendships with girls who I still hang out with today, even four years later!

Has the Destinations program inspired what you want to do in the future? If so, how?

Yes! Through Destinations, I discovered a love of learning, exploring, and traveling. These self-discoveries led me to enter into college as a part of the Explore Program—a way for undecided students to explore their varying interests before committing to a major. If I didn’t go on Girl Scout Destinations, I would not have been comfortable going into college undecided; Destinations taught me to be comfortable with the unknown and allowed me to take this time to discover a major that is best for me. Furthermore, Destinations inspired me to explore future opportunities to study and work abroad!

Overall, what have you learned by participating in Destinations?  
Through Destinations, I have gained valuable skills for navigating life. Destinations have taught me how to be independent—I have left my friends, family, and the comforts of home behind to embark on life-altering trips. I learned how to quickly make everlasting friendships with girls from all over the world. I learned how to use resources to navigate my way around airports and unfamiliar cities. I learned how to embrace new cultures and learn about our differences—and similarities. In all, I have learned how to have a global outlook on life.

Applications for Destinations are due February 15. Apply today!