Day 1: Welcome Ceremony and Ali Arrives

Hey there!

Even after two posts yesterday there was still more to say.  Julia met her roommate who is from Italy, and mine is the chaperone from Hungary.  We’ve spent little time in our rooms (minus sleeping time) so we haven’t had much time to talk with them yet, but I’m sure we will throughout the week.

This morning we had the official opening ceremony for the Forum.  After an impromptu dance party lead by CEO Anna Maria Chávez (she is awesome!), we began as any good Girl Scout ceremony should, with a flag ceremony.  The flag of every country represented here was brought in by a girl from that country and read out.

After the flags, the girl planning team welcomed us.  The planning team is the group of 17 Girl Scouts who planned this event.  They have been working on it for more than a year and I can only imagine how they feel that it’s finally happening and all their work is finally paying off.  They are all very eloquent and seem like great girls, and I look forward to meeting them during the week, and they are a great inspiration to all the delegates.

The first speaker was Melinda Caroll, a Girl Scout Celebrity if there is such a thing.  If you are a Girl Scout, you have heard Melinda’s music and sang her songs.  We sang an African greeting song with her and also “I am One Voice”, which is a song I learned at Sangam and I think is a great metaphor for WAGGGS, being a global sisterhood, growing from one voice to 10 million.

After the singing, Anna Maria and Connie spoke again, as well as the CEO of the Greater Chicago and Northern Indiana Council, who are sponsoring the Forum.  We also watched some great videos about Millennium Development Goals 1, 3, and 7, that the girls will be working on here and at home.  We got CD’s with all the videos so I will try and post them at some point, but possibly not until I get home.

Following the ceremony, we had our first forum sessions.  Now, the chaperones (me) are participating in a “parallel program” where we learn how to support the girls in their work, and also do our own leadership development and networking.  So at this point, I can give you highlights of my program, but I don’t know much about the girls’ sessions except for the name of it.  I would love to have them guest write for me, but I don’t want to put any more work on their plate than they already have, so once I catch up with them I’ll fill you all in as much as I can.

As for my morning session, a lot of it was answering questions and figuring out logistical things.  We talked about the eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which I know a bit about from working at Sangam as a lot of the sessions I ran there were also focused on them.  We talked about how WAGGGS and also GSUSA have taken the UN MDG’s and developed curriculum specifically designed for Girl Scouts and Girl Guides centering on the MDG issues.  If this is something you want to know more about, please click the links provided and/or contact me, I would LOVE to talk to you about how to use these resources with your girls.

I left this session a few minutes early to meet Ali, who was arriving from a Gold Award camp.  We got her all checked in and went right to Chicago-style lunch-deep dish pizza and hot dogs.  Yum!

After lunch I sent Ali off to find her patrol, and I went back to chaperone sessions.  This one was all about being “WAGGGS Champions” back in our councils, which is literally what I’m all about.  I say this all the time, but SO MANY of our girls and leaders don’t know what WAGGGS is, even though they wear the pin on their uniform.  We talked about the benefits of being members of a global organization, both for ourselves and for our girls.  I picked up tons of new buzz words, like “broadening horizons”, “global awareness”, “sisterhood”, and “WAGGGS Champions”.  I’m trying really hard right now not to type out my entire Benefits of WAGGGS speech, I could go on for paragraphs.  Again, if you’re a leader and want more information on introducing your girls to WAGGGS/international Girl Scouting, please contact me and I can give you more information.

One thing I would like to talk about, it is my blog after all, is USA Girl Scouts Overseas (USAGSO).  These are girls who are US citizens living in other countries but who are still members of GSUSA.  I talked in my Day 0 post about meeting one of them from Jordan, and there are some others here as well.  A lot of them are children of military families, diplomats, or whose parents work for big international companies.  They often have very small troops or are Juliettes (“lone” Girl Scouts).  Especially for those from military families who move around a lot, Girl Scouting can be one of those important constants in their lives, even when so many other things change with each move.  Some of the most vocal, community-involved, courageous Girl Scouts I’ve met have been with USAGSO, and I think it’s a great branch of our organization.

I’m going to stop here for now, partially because we have a very early morning tomorrow and I want to get to bed, and because I don’t want this to go on too long.  I’ve learned a little more about what the girls learned in their sessions today, and I’m very excited to tell you about it, but like all good things it will have to wait.  I can tell now that I’m going to get behind, but I am trying and I am keeping notes so I won’t forget.

As always please comment to let me know what you’re interested in hearing about so I can focus more on those topics, please tell your friends, and share this blog with anyone you think might like it.  I love hearing from you!

Yours in scouting,

Ana Cristina