Day 4: Sessions

Sunday was full of sessions. Sessions and yawns. After such a full day of work and partying at International Night, everyone was struggling to keep their eyes open. So, after an all but silent breakfast, the chaperones and I were off to our choice of different leadership and skill building sessions. I chose Evaluation and Assessment, Working with the Media, MDG 1: Poverty and Hunger, and Building Community Partnerships, in that order. Most of these sessions were designed to help us to help support the girls in the Take Action Projects.

Evaluation and Assessment
In this session we learned the difference between evaluation (checking your progress during your project) and assessment (analysis of your project when it is complete). That was about it, we got some worksheets with tips for going over this with our girls. We ended early, but not early enough to sneak in a nap.

Working with the Media
I was interested in this session for my upcoming job at Sangam, and because I’m always interested in learning how people are using social media. This blog has surprised me in how many people in different places it has reached and reaffirmed my belief that social media is something that Girl Scouts should be embracing to grow and sustain older girl membership. I would have liked to get a few more tips on exactly how to use sites like twitter, tumblr, flickr and such, but is was a great overview and informative for some people who don’t use these sites as much as I do. We watched this video about how social media is affecting our world.

MDG 1: Eradicate Extreme Poverty and Hunger
This session was about how to introduce this MDG to your girls. I chose to do this one because out of the three offered, it was the one I personally know the least about. Learn more about the WAGGGS MDG program here. I actually did learn a lot about in this session. The UN definition of poverty is families living on less that $1 per day, and that a disproportionate number of impoverished people are women and girls, about 70%. The statistic that sparked the most discussion in my group was that the world does produce enough food to feed everyone on it, it’s just not getting distributed properly. We did an activity where each group got a different amount of money to feed a different amount of people for a week. We had to think about cost and also nutrition. My group did alright with $35 for three people, but each group was different. This would be a great activity for a troop to do and then compare answers. This slideshow goes very well with this activity.
Then we went into the hall for another activity. We made a big circle with a small circle of about five people in the middle and one person on the outside. The five people in the middle represent the people living in poverty. The large circle represents everyone else, who have enough to eat and who don’t really think about the people going hungry in the middle. The one person on the outside is trying to help the people on the inside but they have this barrier of apathy between them. The idea for the people inside to break out with the help of the person on the outside. This was a fun game, and shows how hard it is to break out of the cycle of poverty. It was a great session and I learned a lot.

Now, I have a confession to make. After lunch was my last session of the day. I could barely keep my eyes open during lunch, and I knew it was going to be another late night running around Chicago on a scavenger hunt. So, after lunch, I went up to my room to sleep instead of going to my session. I feel bad that the girls were in sessions all day, but I really needed the sleep.
That night was the Chicago scavenger hunt. It was really fun and I have a lot of pictures so I’ll do a separate post for that.
Now that the Forum is over, I’m trying to think of ways to keep all of you who are reading this connected. I’m still thinking on it, but feel free to comment with how you would like to stay involved.
Yours in scouting,
Ana Cristina

Day 1 Continued: It All Pays Off

Hello all,
I just want to say a big hello to all my new readers, and also thank you to everyone who has shared this blog with sister Girl Scouts, and a special shout-out to the parents of girls here at the Forum from across the country and the world. I’m so glad you’re reading and your girls are wonderful.

Continuing from yesterday, right before dinner there was a scheduled “reflection” time for chaperones and girls to meet up and discuss what they had learned. I had prepared some questions and prompts to get the girls talking, and then I texted them (our main form of communication here) to meet up in my room. Turns out I had no need for questions at all, both Ali and Julia started talking and didn’t stop until I realized we were already late for dinner. They talked about all the different people they had met, and the changes they were ready to make in the world. Perhaps my favorite thing they said was about communication. Julia is in a breakout room that is run primarily in Spanish. The Forum runs in the 4 official WAGGGS languages, English, Spanish, Arabic and French. So in Julia’s room, the facilitator speaks in Spanish, and then a translator says it in English. At Julia’s table, she is the only one who speaks English as a first language. But instead of being frustrated by these barriers, the girls are leaping over them like they aren’t even there. Julia has some Spanish skills and the other girls all know English to varying degrees. Even if they had to go through multiple translations, everyone was speaking and giving their ideas and sharing their expertise. I was so impressed, especially because we had some translation issues in the chaperone room, and even once split up the tables by language so we could more easily communicate. I hope we as adults learn from the experience of our girls and make an effort to mix ourselves up more. If you only ever communicate with those who speak the same language as you do, you are missing an incredible number of ideas, strategies, and friendships. There’s no excuse for it, and the girls taught me that today.

Hearing how excited the girls were and how inspired to change the world, all my reservations disappeared. I was worried about them making friends, the language issues that we had in the chaperone session, the general disorganization of the schedule, and as much as I hate to admit it, I think I underestimated the ability of the girls. Not their intellect or their ideas, but I know that a lot of them haven’t been in this type of conference/forum encironment before. It’s a lot different than camp or many of the other things girl scouts do. But I was, of course, dead wrong. As they have already demonstrated, the girls are even better at this than we are.

And if I may brag a bit, having overheard some elevator gossip, my girls from Heart of Michigan are especially great. Some other chaperones were saying how their reflection sessions were not as inspiring as mine, that the girls were tired and got bored in their sessions. Although I was sad to hear this, I know that those girls, throughout the week, will grow so much, and learn from their sisters and their chaperones will be just as proud of them as I am of Ali and Julia for truly taking advantage of this geeat opportunity we have been given.  No matter what level you are at right now, by the end of the week you will have grown so much, and that’s the whole idea.

My girls are also dealing well with the organizational issues I eluded to before. A lot of the time we’re not sure where we are supposed to be or what our groups are or what our options are. But despite all this, just being here with such an international group, sometimes the waiting time when the facilitators are coping with various obstacles is even more informational because we’re connecting with each other and sharing our successes and failures in various programs with girls in our countries or councils.

I am so glad you are all reading, and I hope the stories of what these girls are doing inspires you to support or continue to support them. I promise my next post will include pictures!  But please keep reading, because these girls, with the projects they create here and the ideas planted in their heads here, will change the world, so this story has a happy ending.

Yours in scouting,
Ana Cristina GSHOM