Guess Who’s Back?

Namaste all!

Well, after about 26 hours of travel start to finish, I finally arrived at Sangam!  This time I flew through Munich, as opposed to last time going straight 15 hours from Newark.  All my flights were great, actually getting into the airports early.  I’m still undecided as to which route prefer, but I did enjoy getting bumped up to extra leg room from Munich to Mumbai 🙂

My laptop isn’t set up for the internet yet, and I can’t post pictures from this guest computer, so I’ll keep it short.  I’m so excited to be here, and to start training on Monday.  I’ll train for a week, then participate in the next event, and then start “real work”.  On Monday the next Community Relations Intern arrives, and we will be training and rooming together for the next two weeks.  She is from Costa Rica and she was actually at the Girls’ World Forum with me, but I don’t think we ever met there.  The Girl Scouting/Guiding world keeps getting smaller and smaller!

Right now there are staff and volunteers here from the states, Australia, England, Ireland, Denmark, Canada, India, Kenya, and Malaysia (I think that’s everyone!).  I think one of the reasons the Girl Guiding world seems so small is that despite our incredibly different background, experiences, languages, and home countries, when we all come together we are, in the end, so similar.  As Juliette Low, the founder of Girl Scouting in the US said, “Ours is a circle of friends united by ideals.”  She could not have been more correct.  I have only been here two days, and already feel incredibly welcome, already have “inside jokes” and have Wii danced with my fellow Sangam residents.  I miss the girls I was here with before, and I was a little nervous about being here with a new staff, but I realized we are all in that same circle of Guiding friends, and our ideals-empowering ourselves and other to make a better world for girls for one-unite us no matter where or who we are.

“Ours is a circle of friends united by ideals.” -Juliette G. Low

This circle of friends stretches all around the world, and all of you are a part if it.  Even just by reading this blog, you are a part of it.

So with that, I will remind you as always that this is a conversation, so please comment, subscribe, and share this with anyone else you know in our amazing circle of idealists.

Talk to you again soon,


Countdown to India

Hi everyone,

The hour approaches!  It’s Tuesday night, and Thursday at 3:20pm feels closer and closer every minute.  My open suitcase on the floor, my dirty laundry pile getting smaller, adding and crossing things off my many, many lists…I’m having dejavu of last September when I did this all the first time.  I am more prepared this time I think, I am packing more gifts/donations/”stuff” than clothes, and hopefully the clothes I do bring will be comfortable and weather-appropriate.

Almost all packed!

As you can probably guess, I am really excited about this trip.  Last time I was just starting to get a little nervous about such a long flight, about arriving so late at night, and going to such a new and different place.  But this time I’ve been waiting since I got back to leave again, so I’m feeling nothing but excitement and anticipation.  I’ve kind of just been “hanging out” for a few months waiting for this trip, so I am more than ready to hit the ground running with my new job at Sangam.  I am going to be the Marketing and Communications Intern, so different than last time when I was a Sangam Volunteer.  I’ll post more about what exactly I’ll be doing later, once I find out more about my specific responsibilities, but the basic idea is to promote Sangam as a destination to Girl Scouts and Girl Guides around the world.  I’ll work with WAGGGS and the other World Centres on messaging and branding as well.

Sangam Logo

If you are someone who followed my blog last time I was in India, I promise to be more diligent with my posts this time.  I also think my posts might be more Girl Scout centered, I realized when I was in Chicago that there are actual Girl Scouts (and parents!) who are reading.  Of course I know what you really want to see are pictures, so I’ll be sure to upload those more often too.  As always, I love your input, so please tell me what you’d like to see more or less of.

Thank you all for reading, I am so looking forward to sharing this awesome journey with all of you!  As always, please share this with anyone you think might be interested, and please comment with any questions, comments, ideas or just to say hi!

Yours in Scouting,

Ana Cristina

Day 2 Contiunued: And then it began to rain…

Oh the rain.  I knew it was coming, the sky was starting to cloud over and the wind was picking up.  I have to say that Ali was prepared, she had told us on the bus that she brought her poncho, but Julia and I were both convinced that it wouldn’t rain.  According to my ex-weatherman bus tour guide, Chicago was very close to official drought conditions, and Michigan has been the same for the past few months.  But apparently we had forgotten that we were in the midwest, and even closer to a great lake than normal.

The clouds blew in and the lightning began, and of course, since this is Girl Scouts, we were directed back the the discovery center for shelter.  But, like they have so many times this week already, we the girls took the opportunity to make new friends.  A chaperone taught a game that was a lot like the Sarah Sponda game that I used to play when I was a brownie.  In a circle sitting on the ground, you place your hand on your partners knee and cup it.  Your right hand is your passing hand, and one person has a coin that they pass around from one hand to the next.  Everyone is moving their hands to look like they are passing all the time.  One person sits in the middle and closes their eyes.  Everyone starts moving their hands and when everyone has found their rhythm, the person in the middle opens their eyes.  They have to guess who has the coin, and when they do, that person is now in the middle.  More and more people joined in, and it was a great way to learn names and wait for the storm to pass.

Coin passing game

The storm passed just as quickly as it had come in.  We went back to the pavilions and the girls broke up into groups to discuss what they had learned so far. After some more confusion about who was supposed to go where and an incident with a broken table, they discussed and the chaperones were left to hang out in the back.  These girls are constantly amazing me in so many ways, including their perseverance throughout the very long days.  Even in our general conference days, the chaperones have a lot more break time built in, and our sessions are more free-form (my session just now got out early so I have time to write this) and tend to end early.  The girls are go go go all day long, and while I’m sure they sleep wonderfully every night, they are alert and engaged in all their sessions all the time.

Julia in session at the zoo

After their discussions, we had some more free time.  This time just the three of us headed out, and we realized what a big zoo this is!  There are so many animals to see, there was no way we could see them all, but here are some photos of the ones we did see.

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We met back at the discovery center one last time to get our “goodie bags” (all stuff from Little Brownie Bakers), and load up the buses.  By this time, of course, the rain had started again and the girls and I ran to our bus so as to get the least wet as possible.  I sat next to a girl from Nigeria, who knew Amina, my roommate from Sangam.  I’m pretty sure Amina knows every Girl Guide in Nigeria.  Almost immediately I fell asleep, and stayed that way until we arrived back at the hotel.

That night was a free night, but the girls and I decided to stay in, since we have all seen Chicago before, we had had the bus tour the day before and we were going to Navy Pier later in the week.  Ali and I did go to a really awesome sing along session with Melinda Caroll, the Girl Scout celebrity I mentioned earlier.  I felt a little out of my element, because I can’t carry a tune AT ALL.  I don’t even know what “carry a tune” actually means.  But Girl Scouts is about singing no matter what, and singing loud.  We sang some of our camp favorites and also some girls from other countries shared theirs, mostly from Germany.  Jen (Sangams World Centre Manager) came later after her meeting, and I got to sing Come Into Sangam with Jen, who wrote it, and Melinda.  I could tell it was a dream come true for Jen, and it was a really great moment for everyone who was there.

Ali has some audio of us singing, and I’m planning on making a video about our experience when it’s all over, so I’m sure I will use it for that.  For now, sing your favorite camp song as loudly as you can, and you can join us in that way 🙂

Yours in scouting,

Ana Cristina

Time Flys

Hello everyone!

Happy August everyone, I am officially have only one month left in India!  I can hardly believe it, time has flown by so fast.  But then again, if I look at how I was when I first arrived and how I am now, it’s hard to imagine that it’s only been two and a half months, I have learned so much about myself, India, Girl Scouting, and community action.

It’s crazy how fast a place and become familiar.  I was walking down to the local grocery store (Food Bazaar) the other night, and I saw one of the ladies who works in the kitchen at Sangam sitting on her doorstep.  I waved hello and said “Namaste” and continued on my way.  I felt so much like this was “my place”, and I know that you have to check your bag before you go into the grocery store, and I know which parts of the sidewalk to avoid because you’ll twist your ankle in the holes.

I think three months is a strange amount of time to be in one place.  It’s just enough so that you start to get used to being somewhere, and you can make really amazing friendships with people and then you have to leave.  I didn’t think about when I started here that I would learn just as much about Nigeria, the UK and Mexico as I have about India.  When I first got here and we all lived in the same dorm together we would stay up so late talking about the differences and similarities in our respective homes and it was fascinating.  I think everyone should have at least one international experience, even if it’s just with international people in their own country.  It makes you take your own culture and look at it from the outside, and maybe realize that just because you think or do something one way, doesn’t mean its the only way.  Maybe my way is different, not right or wrong, just different.

That’s why when I go home, I want to share my experience with as many people as I can, especially Girl Scouts.  By belonging to Girl Scouts of the USA, we also belong to the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts, and they provide great opportunities, like this one I’m pursuing now, for international learning, and so many girls don’t know about it.

So, before this turns into a commercial, I will end.  Sorry I don’t have any pictures for you today, my connection is very slow and I would rather post this now than wait until tomorrow to upload them.  I will try very hard to have pictures in the next post.  As always, please leave me a comment, question, or share your own international experience!

In the spirit of Sangam,

Ana Cristina

Riding in Rickshaws

Hey everyone!

Sorry I’ve been gone for so long, I’ve been VERY busy here, my next post will be about events, but here are some pictures of rickshaws.

One of the first “Indian” experiences I and many of our participants have when they arrive is riding in a rickshaw.  A rickshaw is pretty much a motorized tricycle with a canopy over it.  The first time I rode in one I felt like I was on a roller coaster, holding on for dear life, hoping that as we darted between a car and a motorcycle we wouldn’t hit that cow up ahead.

The limit is three people per rickshaw (or so we tell participants 😉 but it can still be pretty tight.  Sometimes you can see what seems like 12 kids in a rickshaw going to or coming home from school.  Apparently there are laws for the number of children in a rickshaw at around 5 or 6, but since the parents split the costs of these rickshaws, they pack in as many as they can.

Well, goodnight everyone, our next event starts tomorrow but I’m really going to try to update more often.  If you are curious about anything specific that I’m doing here, let me know in comments!!

I hope you are all doing well,

Ana Cristina


Day off

Hello everyone!  Sorry you haven’t heard from me in a few days, a shaky connection combined with a super-packed schedule is keeping me from posting as often as I’d like.  This past week was training, and we did a LOT of things.  Next week is also packed, so I’ll just write an  overview of fun things we had done, and if there’s anything that sounds cool to you and you want to hear more about, just leave a comment and I’ll do a more in-depth post about it.

On Sunday the 15th, the day before training officially started, two of the other volunteers and I went to see Shanivar Wada, an old mansion, the ruins of which are now open to the public.  We paid 100 rupees to enter.  It was really pretty outside and inside.

During training, we went on a walk around the neighborhood surrounding Sangam.  The most interesting thing I noticed about it was the Mosque, church, and Ganesh temple (Hindu) all on the same block, sharing communal outdoor spaces.  Our guide told us they all get along very well and participate in each others celebrations.  I thought that was great and will make sure to include that when it’s my turn to give the tour to participants.

Well, that’s it for now, tomorrow I’ll post about riding in rickshaws and traffic.

I hope you are all enjoying your summer as much as I am, don’t forget to comment,

Ana C

36 Days and Counting

I leave for Sangam in 36 days.  Wow that seems so soon!  And I still have so much to do!  But I have done a lot already, including getting my visa, my tickets, my vaccines, and getting connected to Sangam.  You can connect too
on their website, Facebook, and/or Youtube.

Things that are still on my to-do list include making SWAPS, buy luggage, pack, buy my official GSUSA uniform, and reading more about WAGGGS and the goals of international Scouting/Guiding.

If I am not too busy with all of these preparations and more, I’ll try and post again before I leave.  Thanks for reading, and remember to comment and share my blog with anyone else you think may be interested in reading about my experience as a Sangam Volunteer.

Yours in Scouting,

Ana Cristina

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