Daily updates

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Our Chalet logoThese daily updates were written by participants at the Our Chalet event.

Sangam event daily updates are also available.

Day 1 - 14 March

"To be able to lead others you first need to learn how to lead yourself" 

Helen Storrow 2012 Participants After an 8:00a.m start for breakfast, we all gathered at the flagpole for our official opening ceremony. We started by everybody introducing themselves. It turned out there were approximately 30 participants and facilitators present for the week, from around 27 different countries.

We learned we were linked with more than 30 participants at this very moment joining in the seminar in Sangam, India for the week. 

We then had a photo shoot of all the participants and the planning team, which made us feel quite famous! We also got into patrols and chose our patrol name and motto. For example, our patrol is called SUMIT. 

No, we don’t have a spelling problem! This is an anagram of all our native countries: Slovenia, U.S.A. and U.K; Malta, Ireland and Tanzania.

The first session was titled “Me as a Leader”. It featured two very familiar “Helen Storrow” facilitators! 

They took us on a journey through Our Chalet of self discovery. We learned more about ourselves as leaders and evaluated ourselves on things we must improve on. 

For the next session, we took a closer look at how we are interacting with the environment at a global level. We learned what it means to be a global citizen, and we also calculated our personal ecological footprint. Many surprised faces here! 

We realised we can reduce our consumption needs. As a practical implication of this newly acquired knowledge, we are taking a reading of our water meter each day. Today we found we used 3400 litres of water. That’s roughly 110 litres per person! 

This has inspired us to conserve water as much as possible. All in all, this was an amazing start to this incredible experience and we’re very much looking forward to the next five days!

SUMIT Patrol

Day 2 - 15 March

"In order to develop as a leader we need to understand what Leadership actually is"

This morning, we had the chance to spend some time outside in the sun and snow, doing some team activities. 

There was a round robin of five different activities, each led by a different member of the patrol, using assigned leadership styles. It was challenging to complete these tasks when the leadership style often did not match the needs of the group and instructions given for the activity.

Following this, we had an interesting discussion about the different leadership types, and how we felt in situations where these different types of leadership are used.

One activity we did was sledding down the hill while picking up some colored cups stuck in the snow. 

Helen Storrow Seminar 2012 - International Night - Magic of Costa Rica

After lunch, we talked about what values are, prioritized our five most important values and then traded our values with other participants. For a lot of us, the environment was identified as a particularly important value, along with family, friendship, honesty and respect. 

Finally, it was time to celebrate the cultural diversity of the group, with international night! The International Night (pictured, right) was was an amazing chance to get to know each other better and learn about other cultures with costumes, games, songs, dances and food!

Our final session for the afternoon was about what biodiversity is, and what things are putting it under threat.

Today's water usage was down from yesterday's 110 to 95 litres per person! Well done!

Something that made us think from today that we'd like to share:

How come that we tend to judge others by their behaviour, and ourselves by our good intentions?

Irish quotation

Day 3 - 16 March

Day of widening the environmental horizons

Today we started off with a fun game at the flag pole and started today’s theme of learning about the environment. 

We then enjoyed a morning in the sun, by visiting different stations, where we learned about various WAGGGS resources concerning the environment. Examples are activity ideas on the MDGs and information on how to pitch project ideas to potential investment partners.

We then had an inspirational talk by Katie, one of the WAGGGS’ delegates at the COP15 and16 conferences. She showed that with a lot of motivation and effort you can even make a difference during a world wide conference.

As a special treat today we got to link up with the girls at the Sangam World Center and shared our new experiences and thoughts about what we have learned so far. 

We had much fun during the link-up and we performed a sketch on carbon dioxide. After lunch we had the honor of meeting Margot Hill,researcher on climate change and climate change impacts, who gave a speech on Connective Climates.
   HSS - Skype link up with Sangam

Her performance made us more aware about the links between researchers, the government and financial instruments that help to tackle climate change.

To reflect on our own experience with protecting the environment we shared important stories in the "Story telling session".

The stories from our past made us realize that we are all affected by environment, no matter who we are or where we live. They motivate and inspire us to take action in our own communities and see how a small action can make a big difference.

Our day will end with watching  two films that are concerned with our seminar themes – "Inconvenient Truth" and "Erin Brockovich”.

Even though we keep showering , we still managed to decrease our water usage! 93.9 litres per person today! Hurrayyy!

This short review was brought to you by The Amazing Aozora. Blue skies for a better future! See you tomorrow.

Kaori (Japan), Victoria (Uganda), Sammie (UK), Rasa Dace (Latvia), Karen (Netherlands) 

Day 4 - 17 March

Team, Conflict and Change: all in a day at Our Chalet

Another bright and sunny day dawned at Our Chalet! We had chance to enjoy the beauty of the grounds

this time Igloo building. We set off with our shovels and plastic boxes ready for a teamwork session.

After an hour and half we had discovered different roles in a team environment – and had a go at most of them too – we also had three lovely igloos (oh, and not forgetting the planning teams’ effort making it four.) The experience of snow makes for a more memorable experience especially when it comes to the technicalities of the igloo roof.

The key lessons we learnt were: role of team members, communication skills, the importance of team work and the most important being that a team can do more than an individual.

After lunch, we had a session about different conflicts: using role play to demonstrate them. We learnt that conflict should not just be seen as negative but it is an opportunity to change in a positive way. Linking to the earlier session we had a discussion in teams, each of us took a different role during the debate.  Each role had different values regarding the topic and this gave us an opportunity to put the conflict management theory into practice.

Our final session of the day was change management. We discussed different types of change (Political, Economical, Social, Technological and Environmental) and the impact they have on girls and young women. We discovered the importance of change our perspective regarding different situations so that we can see the whole picture.

Water update was disappointing today, after decreasing the amount used for the past 2 days it was an increase. We are back up to 115 litres per person..... We must do better for the rest of the week. 

Happy St Patrick’s Day to all the Irish out there.

HSS - role play HSS Igloo

The travelling Ants: Catt (UK), Jutta (Finland), Sophie (Canada), Caro (Costa Rica) and Sasha (Belarus)

Day 5 - 18 March

You are brilliant, and the Earth is hiring!

Today was all about advocacy and changing the world in our own way- we are only one person but the power of one person can move a mountain.

We started the day with a session which taught us about advocacy and how to develop and plan a project. We talked through the steps from choosing an issue we feel passionate about, to implementing the project, to assessing the project. We applied this knowledge to our own ideas and created a short spoken message which we filmed outside in the beautiful Swiss Alps.

After a lovely morning tea (with yummy chocolate biscuits) we split into four different workshops: Influencing people and lobbying, campaign planning, communication skills, and media skills. We each enjoyed these sessions because we were able to learn something new and exciting in small groups.

Then it was lunch!

Then we watched a documentary called “Taking Root” about Wangari Maanthai, a Kenyan Professor who fought for the protection of the environment and for women in her country. She was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for her work. She is an inspiring example of what one person can do to change the world around them.

Finally, we had time to think about our personal environmental projects which we will begin when we arrive back in our home countries. We shared our thoughts with the Seminar planning team who were very helpful in assisting us to shape our projects.

Finally, we enjoyed learning about our beautiful host country during Swiss Night. A local gentleman named Fritz played the Alpenhorn for us, we sang some songs, acted out the William Tell story, had a quiz and ate chocolate fondue…. lovely, lovely, lovely. What a night!

And guess what? It snowed today!!!!! This was the first time Caitlin the Australian and Ruby from Taiwan had seen falling snow. Excitement!

As for our water consumption, it decreased to 93.3 litres per person, which is a record low and we´re all very proud.

To finish our daily update, we want to include a quote for you all from a speech by Paul Hawken that Andii shared with us today:

Each of you is as complex and beautiful as all the stars in the universe, and you are facing the most amazing, stupefying challenge ever faced by a generation.

The generations before you failed. They didn’t stay up all night to look at the stars. They got distracted and lost sight of the fact that every moment of life is a miracle.

Nature beckons you to be on her side. You couldn’t ask for a better boss. The most unrealistic person in the world is the cynic, not the dreamer. This is your century. Take it and run with it as if your life depends on it.

Paul Hawken

Day 6 - 19 March

A day of Action Plans and Goodbyes

The final day dawned at Our Chalet, and the good news: it was still snowing!

Today the main aim of the day was to finalise our project ideas and then create action plansfor when we return home. We spent the morning learning about the process of developing an action plan and the purpose of each stage.

We then split into peer groups and started to develop our individual action plans. Working in peer groups really helped us to get our ideas flowing and bouncing off each other helped us to develop our ideas further. By afternoon tea we had all developed an action plan: everyone was very proud of themselves and others.

We had another link up with Sangam World Centre. We shared our project ideas and ourexperiences of the week. It was good to hear that although we are in different parts of the world we are all working on similar ideas with similar visions.

The rest of the afternoon was spent evaluating the week and filling up each other’s recycled bags with messages and goodies to take home.

The last activity of the week was the closing and final campfire. We all gathered around a large screen and the closing started. The planning team had put together a slide show of pictures which was lovely to watch. We then gathered around in the snow where a trefoil had been shaped in the snow: here we shared our favourite memory of the week. The singing of the world song concluded the 2012 Helen Storrow Seminar: Young Women Leading for a Greener Future.

Our final campfire was an international affair - we sang songs from all over the world including songs from each of the five WAGGGS regions. It was a lovely way to spend our last evening together and we all had lots of fun.  

The past week has been a week of fun, laughter and learning. Each of us has formed international friendships which we will never forget. Safe travels to everyone. 
   Closing ceremony Helen Storrow Seminar 2012

The final water update of the week 93.1 litres, this is the lowest it has been! It just goes to show that small changes can make a big difference.

Catt (UK)


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