We are using this blog to record what happens at GWF in Chicago. Stay tuned for updates!
|Saturday 21 July 2012|
After returning home, Annastasia from Girl Scouts of Northern California wrote this post on her hopes for the future following her transformative experience at GWF.
In the year 2015, world-wide extreme poverty will be eradictated, environmental sustainability will be ensured, gender equality will be achieved, along with five other goals. Sounds impossible, right?? Here are all of the world's problems rolled up into one carpet. The Millennium Development Goals, set by the United Nations in 2000, shall be achieved.
Although we may not speak the same language, I am confident that we are united because we share a vision for a better planet.
Annastasia from Northern California, USA
In the year 2012, The Year of the Girl, over 600 Girl Guides and Girl Scouts from over 38 US states and 89 countires convened in Chicago, Illinois to brainstorm ways to create sustainable solutions to solve these problems and make our world a better place. This proved that GIRLS can lead our world.
As a second generation Chinese-American from the Bay Area, this life-changing experience of ethnic diversity really proved to me that together, united, we all have potential to work together. Only at this forum was I able to realize that many people around the world are not aware of the different ethnic Americans.
This is unquestionably the most diverse population I've ever surrounded myself with. I've expanded my family with so many new sisters.
Annastasia from Northern California, USA
This observation led me to formulate my take-action project: building a billingual-based reading and writing program where students self-author books. This educational partnership between recent immigrants to the Bay Area, who generally face cultural barriers that thus result in poverty, and second or third generation Americans who may not know their heritage, but generally do not face cultural barriers that result in poverty. This partnership will build confidence, with lasting relationships and connections, that will help American communities pull out of poverty.
I have met an incredible amount of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts from around the globe. This is unquestionably the most diverse population I've ever surrounded myself with. I've expanded my family with so many new sisters.
Although we may not speak the same language, I am confident that we are united because we share a vision for a better planet. We will meet the 2015 deadline.
|Tuesday 17 July 2012|
Growing confidence to change the world
In this post, Lorraine Wong from Girl Scouts of Northern California reflects on how GWF surpassed her expectations, changed her perspectives and made her see the world differently.
I stepped into the San Francisco airport feigning independence, walking towards the plane that would take me to the Girls’ World Forum that I’d simultaneously dreaded and looked forward to for months.
A girl who lived close to poverty described it as ‘suffering’, a piercing perspective that I’m still contemplating and trying to truly understand.
Lorraine Wong from Northern California, USA
At the welcome dinner, I sat awkwardly with girls I’d never met but with whom I’d been put in a patrol. As I walked around each table, everyone smiled and introduced herself while trading SWAPs, and I felt just a little bit less lonely.
Uniform day continued with an official air. During our breakout sessions, we first covered the definition of a take action project. Throughout the presentation, I reflected on the project I’d had in mind before the forum and couldn’t match up my short-term goal with the need for sustained change. The second half of the day was spent discussing poverty in our local communities.
I’d originally thought we were going to listen to a presentation about poverty in developing nations, the type of introduction we’ve heard many times but which never give us the means to make a real difference ourselves. Instead, we girls had conversations with each other about the poverty within our own communities and together brainstormed what we could do to help our local people.
Each night before I went to sleep I did a silent jig in my room about the new world perspectives I’d heard and the confidence I felt growing in myself.
Lorraine Wong from Northern California, USA
Hearing about the same problem of poverty in so many socially and governmentally different countries broadened my mind to its definition. I’d first thought of poverty as simply a ‘lack’ of necessary materials, but another girl who lived much closer to poverty described it as ‘suffering’, a piercing perspective that I’m still contemplating and trying to truly understand.
From that day on, despite the heavy topics we discussed every day, each night before I went to sleep I did a silent jig in my room about the new world perspectives I’d heard and taken into myself, the new friends I’d made, and the confidence I felt growing in myself to make a real difference both locally and globally.
On Monday, I walked out of the hotel looking over my shoulder for one last glimpse of my newfound sisters, then turned forward with my dredged up confidence to change the world. And every night still, I do a little jig before I go to bed, excited about what I can and will do tomorrow.
|Sunday 15 July 2012|
The qualities of a leader
Alice Lin from Girl Scouts of Taiwan shares an example of an activity used at GWF to help girls develop their leadership skills and understanding.
We learned a lot from the various Toolkit Sessions today, especially the Leadership Toolkit Session.
The activity helped us to understand that to be a leader one must have a clear plan of what your next move will be.
Alice Lin from Taiwan
The “Little Mirror” activity, in which we split into pairs and one person mimicked the other’s movements as a mirror reflection would, helped us understand that to be a leader one must have a clear plan of what your next move will be, and also try to alert your followers of it.
At the same time the leader also needs to be mindful of her followers, and know when to adjust her pace so that they can keep up. On the other hand, the follower has to pay close attention to what the leader is doing, and try to be able to keep up.
We also split into groups and drew pictures of what we think our ideal leaders should be like. This activity helped us further comprehend what qualities a leader should have. Overall, today’s sessions really gave us a lot to think about, and new ideas on how to lead and guide our girls in our Member Organization.
|Saturday 14 July 2012|
Teaching practical skills to make a difference
Today the girls and chaperones traveled off-site to visit various projects around Chicago that demonstrated the concepts they had been learning about at GWF.
The participants split into smaller groups and visited a number of different locations. One of the most unusual projects was Journey World, a facility where girls get the chance to act as a model community and try out different roles, managing their own money and collaborating with other teams. In this post chaperones Bree and Eloise, both from the USA, give us their perspectives on Journey World.
Bree Ponce, Girl Scouts of Northern California
As I walked through the doors on the sixth floor of regular looking building, I saw sights that have become quite familiar from these past few days - the Chicago Tribune and the Art Institute of Chicago alongside a bank, fire station, snack shop and more. What was missing? The citizens, the workforce and the government. That was going to be us.
Every business started with a loan that accrued interest and every business set their own pricing. This was a real life situation. Many girls wrote their first checks and deposit slips.
Bree Ponce from Northern California, USA
Journey World provided each of us, delegate and chaperone alike, to work for a day with a team and an entire city complete with 14 shops. Most shops had a fairly complete staff - an owner, an accountant and specialists like sales executives and associates. The money was real as checks were printed, cashed and spent. Every business started with a loan that accrued interest and every business set their own pricing.
This was a real life situation. Many girls wrote their first checks and deposit slips while chaperones found out how their work style was the same in the real world - most of us working through our breaks with barely enough time to get food. This experience intentionally showed us how teaching skills can be an effective way to impact poverty and hunger.
I saw a deeper connection to the experience. We saw how we need to approach our upcoming Take Action projects - building a team, sharing resources, finding income and working together. Chaperones were able to practice girl empowerment and if we didn't, it would be a $4 fine and I made $12.80 for the day.
Thank you Journey World for impacting each of us and thus, impacting our communities world-wide.
Eloise Golden, Girl Scouts of Central California South
What a simply fantastic day for girls and chaperones and volunteers! We began our day reinforcing the concept of a Take Action Project where we learned that a true “Take Action Project” is one that determines the root cause of a problem and how to create a sustainable solution to that problem.
We discussed the difference between a great community service project and a Take Action Project. We also received tools and tips on how to best help our girls – the delegates – to be successful at whatever project they end up deciding to work on.
A true “Take Action Project” is one that determines the root cause of a problem and how to create a sustainable solution to that problem.
Eloise Golden from Central California South, USA
Then all the participants divided into three groups for the day. Our group went to a place called Journey World. Girls learned about how a small town is run – and this included having a mayor and a judge!
Each girl was assigned a job somewhere in the town – some worked in small business, for the city government, for the local radio/tv station, for an advertising agency, for a real estate firm and more. The girls were given pay checks from which they learned to create a personal bank account, how to write checks and how to create a deposit slip. They were permitted to write checks to purchase items for their personal use.
It was a great exercise on politics, city government, commerce, advertising, financial planning and more! The girls and adults enjoyed the experience.
The day ended with International Night which was completely amazing! 30 countries/states/groups entertained with song, dance and poetry. Each country also had table displays showing various items from their respective countries.
It was wonderful to see young women and adults interacting with people from all nations. There was so much fun and entertainment and enjoyment. There is certainly no doubt that today was a highlight of the whole Girls World Forum!
|Friday 13 July 2012|
Together we can save our planet
Friday was zoo day! Everybody visited a local zoo to hear from the experts there about environmental issues.
The participants learned about different environmental challenges before coming together to discuss solutions. At the end of the day, some of the girls were chosen to plant a tree in commemoration of Girls' World Forum. The delegates from Italy and Venezuelan delegate Aymé Urdaneta have both provided accounts of the day's events.
"Today we have visited the Chicago Brookfield Zoo and we have attended three different sessions about environmental sustainability.
"One of them was focused on climate changes and the different ways to reduce the problems related to this issue.
We think that is really important to sensitise people about environmental issues and possible solutions to make this world, our world, a better place."
"For example, we have spoken about the deforestation, extinction of animal species, melting of glaciers and we have thought about different solutions such as turn off the water while you brush your teeth or other simple actions that you can do in your daily life. On the other hand we thought about a worldwide scale solutions such as how to reduce the emissions and how to improve renewable energies.
"In the second session we understood through the vision of some slides the importance to check the labels before buying a product and see if it comes from an eco-sustainable production. We have spoken about deforestation and its consequences on some animal species at risk such as big cats and orangutans.
"The last session was concentrated on water. We had an interesting and amazing experiment and after that we were all astonished to find out that less the 1% of the whole world water is available to drink. Furthermore we have discovered that the main water resources are lakes and rivers and we have also learnt something about water footprint.
"In conclusion we think that is really important to sensitise people about environmental issues and possible solutions to make this world, our world, a better place."
"Desde muy temprano en la mañana empezamos el día, muchas todavía queriendo regresar a la cama por el sueño que siguen teniendo pero a la vez con ganas de ir al zoológico. Cuando ya íbamos camino al zoológico el sueño no podía con muchas y caían rendidas en las sillas, mientras que otras se mantenían entretenidas hablando.
Aprendimos bastante, desde cuánta agua es accesible para nosotros, el hábitat de los orangutanes, cómo usar el aceite de palma sostenible, los grandes gatos y mucho más.
Aymé Urdaneta from Venezuela
"En mi bus por lo menos todo estaba muy callado, hasta que el himno del panamericanismo se vuelve la canción del día y un tema de conversación.
"Cuando llegamos, en el zoológico ya nos estaban esperando para ir al show de delfines, aunque por el poco tiempo que teníamos no pudimos ver todo, al menos aprendimos dónde y cómo viven éstos animales.
"Tras pasa el día aprendimos bastante, desde cuánta agua es accesible para nosotros, el hábitat de los orangutanes, cómo usar el aceite de palma sostenible, los grandes gatos y mucho más, todo esto con una enseñanza de cómo podemos contribuir para ayudar a éstos animales y cómo conservar nuestro medio ambiente ya que 'juntas podemos salvar a nuestro planeta'.
"Después pudimos recorrer el zoológico con unas actividades que nos entregaron. Pasan las horas y el dolor de pies aumenta, aunque un disfrute del día entero te deja satisfecha, ya nos regresamos al Discovery Center justo cuando empieza a llover, pero cuando estamos dentro no perdemos tiempo, y las latinas nos empezamos a reunir y hacemos algo parecido a una sesión fotográfica, después de muchas fotos más tarde salimos corriendo bajo la lluvia hasta el bus para regresar al hotel.
"Grandioso día después de todo."
|Thursday 12 July 2012|
So many flags, so many girls...
On Thursday, the participants' eyes were opened to the size and diversity of our Movement as they began getting to know each other.
The Girls' World Forum programme began with a lively Opening Ceremony that featured a flag parade and a speech by the opening keynote speaker, young social entrepreneur Sejal Hathi. Tatiana Paola Cuadra Bermudez from the Asociacion de Guias y Scouts de Costa Rica has written for us about her experience of the day.
Sentí un gran orgullo al ver tantas banderas, tantas chicas…fue algo genial y saber que soy parte de algo tan grande a nivel mundial es excelente.
Tatiana from Costa Rica
"El día jueves fue genial, en mi caso tenía que entrar con la bandera de mi país, y sentí un gran orgullo al ver lo magnifico que puede llegar a ser todo esto, ver tantas banderas, tantas chicas…fue algo genial y saber que soy parte de algo tan grande a nivel mundial, ¡WOW! es excelente.
"Durante el resto del día fue impactante ver como muchos países aun en un mismo continente pueden tener tantas diferencias. Todo esto me puso a pensar…”yo no quiero simplemente saber, yo quiero actuar” -
"Sé que de este foro puedo sacar mucho más provecho, puedo aprender más , hacer amigas, conocer culturas…pero lo más importante sé que puedo cambiar el mundo!"
|Wednesday 11 July 2012|
The first meeting
The first official day of Girls' World Forum saw girls and chaperones arriving in Chicago from places both far-flung and nearby.
A day of registration activities and introductions was topped off with a large dinner and some words of welcome from Girl Scouts of the USA (GSUSA) chief executive officer (CEO) Ana Maria Chávez. Here, Danish delegates Margrethe and Katrine tell us how the day looked from their perspective.
"After 14 hours in a very cold air plane we arrived to the hotel in the middle of Chicago. What we saw was, not only a very fancy hotel but also, about 500 Girl Guides and Girl Scouts from all over the world. It was fantastic! After having checked in we went around the city and saw the beautiful architecture and enjoyed the good and sunny weather. We also enjoyed our packed lunch at the beach.
As it gets later, the hotel becomes more and more quiet – All of the girls want to be ready for a brand new day tomorrow.
Margrethe and Katrine, delegates from Denmark
"After a stroll in the city we went back to the hotel to meet up all the other participants again. The big moment was about to arrive – we got to meet our roommates! They were all super nice, so it is going to be fun and exciting to be around them the next couple of days.
"At dinner was another place to meet all the other delegates. We were all sitting in the patrols we were going to work in through the forum. People are so nice and positive. SWAPS were the big deal today. All people were swapping things and telling about their culture and country – it is good we have many more days to go. The CEO of the Girl Scouts of the USA stopped by and gave all the participants some inspiration along the way and of course she also had some SWAPS for all of us.
"Many people have travelled a long way from a variety of time zones. As it gets later, the hotel becomes more and more quiet – All of the girls want to be ready for a brand new day tomorrow. It is going to be fun to get to know a lot more about the Millennium Development Goals."
|Wednesday 11 July 2012|
Welcoming the world to Chicago
Girls' World Forum starts here! Today is registration day, when our 600 Girl Guides and Girl Scouts and chaperones will arrive in Chicago from all over the USA and the world.
WAGGGS is here with Girl Scouts of the USA (GSUSA), who is hosting this event, following the previous two Young Women's World Forums which were hosted by Girlguiding UK (2010) and the four WAGGGS World Centres (2011).
Today we've been meeting together and discussing our session plans. It's really been coming together today and the energy has been really great –I'm excited about what's going to happen over the next week.
A hive of activity has already been buzzing for days. The Girl Planning Team and the facilitators have been busy undergoing training and final preparations at the GSUSA Gathering Place in downtown Chicago.
Meanwhile, volunteers and staff alike are putting all their efforts into preparing the event venue and making sure all the participants can arrive safely and get all the assistance and equipment they need.
This enormous task ranges from distributing headsets for language interpretation and preparing delegate welcome bags to ensuring volunteers are present at Chicago's airports, to meet girls who are flying in and show them where to go.
By this evening the majority of participants will be able to come together in one room for dinner, exemplifying the WAGGGS spirit of international friendship and co-operation. GSUSA chief executive officer Ana Maria Chávez will be here to extend a welcome and mark the official beginning of this exciting event.