Day 0: Check check check in

A day late (as usual), but hopefully I can make up for it with all my photos!

We arrived to Columbus yesterday (Friday) morning, my mom and I driving separately in to our air bnb in Columbus. I’m kind of obsessed with air bnb, I’ve stayed in them on most of my recent trips and you can usually save tons compared to hotels.

Ours is a wonderful apartment in the King-Lincoln neighborhood, about a mile from downtown/the convention center. Erica and Ben are great hosts, but their cat, Loaf, is an even better one.

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Hi, Loaf!

After get settled in, we Uber-ed down to the convention center, getting lucky with knowledgeable drivers who could avoid all the construction. The convention center went all out for Girl Scouts, right from the entrance we could tell we were in the right place.

We proceeded to an information booth to get oriented to the huge convention center and find the volunteer check in. A very nice volunteer walked us aaaaaaaallllll the way down to the other side to check in.

Volunteers receive one Hall of Experiences pass per shift they are working. We picked up these as well as some goodies for volunteers. We then headed back downstairs to the Hall of Experiences.

 

If you’ve ever attended any type of convention, you know the feeling when you first walk in to the hall and feel very small. There were tons of booths from Girl Scout and non Girl Scout related companies and organizations. It was divided into “neighborhoods” by themes like Life Skills, Entrepreneurship, and A World for Girls. There were also a few “Campfires”, (I love it!) where exhibitors were scheduled to give talks at various times.

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Many (probably most) of the exhibitors had hands-on activities at their booths, which was GREAT! It was getting the girls involved, and getting them to spend more time at each booth. There were a ton of STEAM themed booths, a whole section for NASA, a Space Camp booth, lots of robotics and we got a peek at the COSI (Center of Science and Industry) booth, where we will be spending the night tonight.

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Learning by Doing!

As always when girls get together, it was inspiring to see the future leaders of the world. In the World for Girls sections, there was representation of the Five World Centres, and an area to join the Girl Scout Advocacy Network, and place sign a petition to rename a bridge in Savannah, Georgia to the Juliette Gordon Low Bridge (signed!).

In the Girl Scout Shop (with so many things that were so hard NOT to buy!), I met up with a friend from Sangam (who helps run this awesome zine with her council in Atlanta). It was great catching up with her and I was reminded how small the Girl Scout world can be. I’m hoping to catch up with a few other friends I know who are in various capacities.

After seeing all there was to see (I think we hit all of it!), we hopped in another Uber back to our air bnb and grabbed dinner at a local “pub”. We hit the hay early to get ready for our BIG DAY on Friday.

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Sunset at Scusset Beach

Hey everyone!

Welcome new readers! I’m so excited to share my Girl Scout travels with you.
After our big day in Boston, we took a low key day to hang out on Mass Maritime’s campus. Some Cadets still on campus for the summer came to teach the girls about ROVs, Remote Operated Vehicles. They’re the things that helped explore the Titanic ruins, and much of the ocean floor research being done now is done using ROVs. The girls actually got to make ROVs, using plastic hangers, small motors, wires, and lots of electrical tape. I was very impressed with how well the girls did with the project, and their knowledge of electrical systems. Some of them even got the motors running before we finished explaining the steps! I think we have some future engineers on our hands.
I don’t think I’ve explained yet what exactly the theme of this trip is. The girls will be earning their oceanography interest project (unique to Girl Scouts of Eastern Mass) and we are trying to focus a lot of the learning around the STEM themes, Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. If you want to know more about Girl Scouts and STEM, let me know in comments, I’d love to talk with you about it.
The other stations that day were also very exciting, but to be honest here (honesty on the internet, what?) I took my break during this time. It’s hard to balance the fun I want to have with the girls with self-care, and for every patrol meeting we have with the girls, we have a pre-meeting and a post-meeting, as well as a debrief of the day and a review of the next. We try to take time for ourselves, and there were plenty of extra hands this day to watch the girls, so I missed the dry-suits (“Gumby” suits), the bridge simulator, and a GPS scavenger hunt activity.
Gumby Suit Fun!

Gumby Suit Fun!

That evening, we left for the beach! We bussed to Scusset beach (try saying that 5 times fast) and got into our swimsuits. There was a catered dinner and plenty of sand, water, and creatures to keep us all busy. Even though the water was freezing, the girls ran right in. They actually found some cool sea creatures, like sand dollars and hermit crabs. We all posed for photos, and some of the committee members joined us. Speaking of photos, the sunset was beautiful and Audrey and Jamie, two of my fellow volunteers and both great photographers, got really excited about it.
Scusset Beach at Sunset

Scusset Beach at Sunset

Also at Scusset Beach, we had a Juliette Low candle ceremony. We were all given small candles, which we lit from a larger one whose light had been passed all the way from a candle lit by Juliette Low at the first Girl Scout headquarters in Savannah, Georgia. It was a very inspiring ceremony, and another of the Girl Scout traditions that I love so much, and makes this such a special organization.
Juliette Low Candle Ceremony

Juliette Low Candle Ceremony

So it was another great day, and the girls continue to impress and surprise me every day. We’ve had such little homesickness and behavioral problems that the pessimistic side of my brain is a little afraid, but the majority of me is just glad that these girls are truly embracing the “be a sister to every Girl Scout” line of the Girl Scout Law.
So with that, until next time,
~Ana

Patriots & Pizza, Churches & Chocolate

Happy, “Ana finally took pictures” day!

Tuesday consisted of a lot of walking, and a lot of eating. Pretty good day, right? Right.

We began with a North-End walking tour from Boston Pizza Tours, and saw things like the only Irish pub in Little Italy, the Leonard P. Zakim Bunker Hill Memorial Bridge, the original Regina’s Pizzeria, Copps Hill Burying Ground with the gravesite of some dudes from the Salem Witch Trials, and also Robert Newman, the guy who actually lit the lanterns to signal Paul Revere to start riding, the skinniest house in the world, and of course the Old North Church. I think the girls enjoyed walking around the city, and the tour guides were great at making the stories interesting and engaging.

The tour ended in a park where pizza from Regina’s was waiting for us. And I have to say, as big of a fan as I am of Chicago Deep Dish, this was really good pizza.

We walked from there to a few of the famous Italian bakeries in the area. The girls were excited to try Cannolis, something very few of them had had before. I had a chocolate Ricotta one, and it was amazing.

Whenever you go somewhere with a lot of Girl Scouts, especially when they’re all wearing the same t-shirt, you tend to get noticed. A really nice lady named Maria was helping us at the bakery, and she didn’t even mind when the girls were indecisive and took longer than expected to complete the order. When I went to pay she said that she loved Girl Scouts, always bought the cookies, and had some nieces in the council here. I always love hearing people’s Girl Scouts stories, even if they’re not scouts, they usually have had a good interaction with a Girl Scouts at some point in their lives. It just makes me happy!

Next, we went the the New England Aquarium. It’s set up really cool, there is a giant tank in the middle that goes straight up through all four floors, filled with all kinds of fish, rays, reef, turtles, and even sharks. Around the tank is a spiral ramp, with smaller tanks on each level with other creatures to see. On the lowest level, in an enclosure all around the big tank, there are penguins zooming around under the ramp. So you can peek over the rail on any level of the ramp and see the penguins. In another section there are two touch tanks, a big one with rays and a smaller one with crabs, sea stars, and other crustaceans. There are also seal and sea lion shows.

As a special part of our trip, we went on a behind-the-scenes tour of the third floor tanks. In small groups, we went behind the wall and got to see how they feed, clean, and care for the creatures in the tanks. We also saw holding and quarantine tanks, and got to touch another horseshoe crab and lobster. We learned about how the water used in the salt water tanks are from the Boston Harbor, and recycled many times through it. We also learned a bit about the green technology used at the aquarium through the behind the scenes tour and the “Big Tank Talk” after.

Due to tour timings, we were in the aquarium for most of the afternoon. We saw the fur seal show, and then left to tour and eat dinner at Faneuil Hall, a revolution-era marketplace, now filled with stores and restaurants galore. I don’t know too much about it’s history, but the wikipedia page is pretty interesting!

We had these great vouchers that the girls could use to get certain meals from the vendors, and also a dessert. I had lobster bisque in a breadbowl, and a really great smoothie for dessert. It was great to just hang out and people-watch in the busy hall. The girls grouped up and went shopping, and it was also great to see them, after only three days together, laughing and running around together like they were BFFs.

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Lobster Bisque!!

Of course, not everything ever runs perfectly at a Girl Scout event, either with logistics (no matter how much you plan) or with the girls. But the issues that we have had have really been minor so far, and the other girls have been AMAZING at stepping up to be a buddy with someone feeling down and adapting to a changing schedule. I think we got some great girls here, and I hope we can renew some of their interest in Scouts and help them take full advantage of the wonderful program.

Well, I’m about to go to the beach, so I will try to post again tonight, please comment if you have questions and don’t forget to subscribe to get updates in your email!!

Thanks for reading,

Ana

Starstruck: The Girl Scout Edition

Hey there!

I guess that exclamation point may be a bit of an overstatement, if I were saying “hey there” to you out loud right at this moment, there would be no trace of an exclamation point. After a full day out on a boat doing science and animal encounters, then an awesome “show-and-tell” with SEA, then swimming in the MMA pool, a late-night trip to the snack bar and an even later-night meeting to prepare for a logistically complicated trip to Boston tomorrow, I have never been so ready for bed in my life.

BUT

There before all those things we did today, I got to “feed my geek” a bit with an amazing talk about an amazing woman, and I have to tell you all about it.

This morning, as is the Girl Scout way, we had a ceremony. Girl Scouts in full uniform, gloves, and sashes doing the flag ceremony, singing songs, and reciting the Promise & Law. There was an awesome “sand ceremony” by some of the girls on the planning team, which involved reading about things we would do during the week that corresponded to different items placed in a large glass vase, creating a kind of sand-art layered centerpiece that we will use at the final dinner. Some more members of the planning committee spoke, and then we heard from Margot Iwanchuck, the great great niece of Juliette “Daisy” Gordon Low, the Founder of Girl Scouts in the USA, 101 years ago.

As you all probably know, I am a huge Girl Scout nerd. I have always admired Juliette Low, as an amazingly forward-thinking woman who created, incredibly quickly, an organization that has stood the test of time, and which continues to grow and change as the girls it serve grow and change throughout the years.

Juliette, age 28

But for as many articles and books I have read on the founding of Girl Scouts, I huge majority of things that Margot said were brand-new to me. She spoke about Aunt Daisy as remembered by her family, and since she didn’t found the Scouts until a bit later in life, many of the stories she shared were from before she spoke her famous words.

I’ve got something for the girls of Savannah, and all of America, and all the world, and we’re going to start it tonight!

I’ll share with you one of the stories (my favorite) and then I really really have to hit the hay!

Even as a child Daisy was compassionate to all living things, even animals. One year, her family raised a turkey, called Tom of course, to cook for the Thanksgiving meal. Daisy had learned about a new things called chloroform, which she thought would be a much gentler way for Tom to pass than the alternative. She convinced her family to try it on the turkey. They did, and when the bird fell asleep, they plucked it and placed it in the ice house to cook the next day. When it came time for said cooking, the cook was found screaming in the kitchen, standing on the counter, cleaver raised in one hand, trying to catch the panicked naked Tom, who was probably wondering what happened to all his feathers!

There were many more stories like this one, describing a young woman who, even by todays standards, with all her handstands in boardrooms and affinity for fly fishing, would by some have been considered “cooky”. But by me and the 59 million Girl Scout alumnae in the USA today, she is our biggest hero and someone we all should strive to be more like.

Special thanks to Margot Iwanchuck for sharing her stories with us all today!!

So that’s it for tonight, I can barely keep my eyes open any longer, but I also can’t wait to have more adventures tomorrow, I just realized I haven’t mentioned the girls at all in this post, but they are AWESOME and I will post about them next time!!!

Thanks for reading!

An——————–zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Delhi/Agra trip-Part 1

Namaste readers!
What trip to India would be complete without a trip to the Taj Mahal? None! So the two Sangam Volunteers (Rachel and Katrina) and I decided to take three days in early February off together and travel to Delhi with a day trip to the amazing Taj. I had never stayed in Delhi before, just passed through on my last incredibly quick trip to see the Taj last year. Neither Rachel nor Katrina had been to either city.
We began our journey on a Monday evening. We flew from Pune airport, which is very small, to Delhi, about an hour and 45 minute flight.
Most people, me included, would assume traveling by air domestically in India to be similar to if not more frustrating than doing so back home. But I think sometimes we forget the days when you didn’t have to take your shoes off to go through security and your bottle of water could travel full and no one had ever heard of a full body scanners. But those days are alive and strong in the Pune airport. After making our way through the ladies line (for a curtained off pat-down) me, Rachel, Katrina, and our full bottles of water and nail clippers made it safely to the plane. After a thankfully uneventful flight, we arrived in Delhi. We immediately realized a crucial detail we had forgotten while planning our trip. The weather. Delhi was COLD! We actually had looked at a weather report online and were ready for the forecasted rain, but none of us had thought to look at the temps. Alas, all we had for warmth were our scarves, which we wrapped tightly around ourselves and headed out into the city.
We caught a pre-paid taxi to our hotel, I highly recommend this method over trying to bargain for prices. You might pay a bit more, but it’s easier because you pay in advance and so don’t need to deal with money once you arrive at your hotel.
We stayed at hotel Vivek on the recommendation of a coworker. On Main Bazar road, the epitome of tourist streets, there are hotels and guest houses every few feet (or I guess I should say metres), only broken up by souvenir shops.
main bazar
Since I haven’t posted in a while, I will post this now rather than wait until my next day off to finish, and I’ll just make a new post for the rest of our trip, and I promise, there are more pictures on the way!
–Ana

Birthday Shenanigans!

Kind of late to be talking about my birthday, I know, but things have been a bit crazy here, and the rest of February is also going to be very busy, so here we go!

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MaLau, me, and Rachel at Chili’s for my birthday

This photo is from my birthday! We went to Chili’s, the most American food I have tried yet in India. The menu (and actually the entire restaurant) was almost exactly the same as it would be at home, except that there are much more vegetarian options and the burgers are all buffalo. I had an awesome birthday, which included Skyping with my family and best friend, this awesome dinner out, and then a wii kareoke party back at Sangam.

At Sangam we always celebrate staff birthdays, but this is not the norm in traditional India. Like most other things, this is changing as younger generations become more “westernized” but for example, some of out local kitchen and maintenance staff don’t even know what their real birth dates are.

As always when a celebration or holiday comes around, I had a great cultural sharing conversation with the Volunteers-In-Training. I said one of my favorite things about my birthday back home is that when you go out, you don’t have to pay for anything, because your friends pick up the tab. The girls explained to me that in India, if you go out with your friends on your birthday, you pay for everything. This didn’t actually surprise me much, a lot of things in India seem to go like this. There is also a tradition where when something exciting happens in your life, like you pass your exams, someone in your family has a baby or gets married, or you move to a new house, you bring sweets, called peda, for everyone at work, to announce your good news.  I think some people back home who complain about all the gifts they are constantly buying for people could get on board with this idea…

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Me and Shweta, one of Sangam’s Volunteers in Training

In a few days I’m planning a trip to Delhi with Rachel and Katrina, with a possible pit stop in Agra (where the Taj Mahal is), so I promise I’ll have tons of photos and hopefully some awesome photos to share from that trip!

Thanks for reading, and remember to comment and subscribe, I love hearing from anyone who reads!

Thanks!

Ana

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