Juliette Low Seminar Impact Stories

Here you can read from some of the previous participants at JLS, you can learn about what the seminar is like and the impact it has on those who attend.

Scroll down to read stories from:

JLS 2016, Ghana

  • Lucy Nkhoma, Malawi
  • Erini Kappou, Greece
  • Mary May Hubert, Canada

JLS 2015, Sangam India

  • Ally Hooper, Australia

JLS 2006, Sangam India and JLS 2009, Kenya

  • Lindell Edgell, Australia

JLS 2005, Pax Lodge UK

  • Ruchira Jayasinghe, Sri Lanka

JLS 2003, Our Cabaña Mexico

  • Haifa Ourir, Tunisia

JLS 1993, Our Cabaña Mexico

  • Corinna Hauri, Switzerland

JLS 1989, Our Chalet Switzerland

  • Sophy Kotti, Greece

JLS 1983, Our Chalet Switzerland

  • Ana Maria Mideros Gadea, Peru

JLS 1973, Our Cabaña Mexico

  • Ginny Radford, New Zealand

JLS 1963, Our Cabaña Mexico

  • Rocio de Mateo Smith, Mexico

JLS 1954, Our Chalet Switzerland

  • Julie Dawson, USA
  • Muriel Taylor, USA
  • Martha Walker, USA

Lucy Nkhoma, Malawi

Lucy Nkhoma

Being from a large family of seven children, I was lucky to be the only person to get a degree. Unlike some, I decided to join Girl Guiding as an adult in 2013, and at this time there were not many women within the Malawi Girl Guiding Association in leadership roles. The reason I joined Girl Guiding was because of my passion for leadership – and in 2015 I was lucky to be nominated as a Young Leader on our National Board, and became National Youth Chair, representing the young people within my Member Organisation. I wanted to address the problem of lack of young people in roles, so I moved around Malawi recruiting young leaders and now we have several on the Board!

With this experience, I attended the Juliette Low Seminar (JLS) in 2016 in Ghana. Attending JLS gave me the wings to fly, and I came to demonstrate, this is how it is meant to be. It taught me to have a smart work plan with clear achievable goals – this was a huge help in me landing the role of Deputy Chief Commissioner. I learnt to be assertive and have determination at JLS – it really teaches you to be more determined and believe in yourself to achieve things. I came to Girl Guides with a purpose, to ensure more young people can be in leadership positions. JLS gave me the ability to change this system, the drive to look at new ways of doing things, of achieving more, JLS gave me that push.

JLS taught me to demand change. Malawi Girl Guides didn’t think young people had the experience and the determination needed for leadership roles, I wanted to prove that they could. In my role of Deputy Chief Commissioner, JLS had taught me to be assertive, to ensure I was involved with things like the finance committee. I made change happen. Things that were meant to be barriers for me as a leader, JLS taught me to overcome. 

Eirini Kappou, Greece

Erini Kappou

I was a volunteer in the Greek Guiding Association and studying law and human rights at university. I was nominated to attend JLS in Ghana, 2016. At the time I was struggling. I did not know what I wanted to do with my life. There were lots of women at the JLS in a similar position to me, we had ambition and dreams but were not sure what to do.

The facilitators were amazing and helped create brave spaces for us to share. The JLS opened a huge window to show what is out there in the world, and what you can do with your skills, how can you do things in your community.

After the JLS you must do a project to have an impact in your community. I knew I wanted to do something for my committee which was affected by racism because of the refugee crisis in Greece. This project was to try to reach out to schools to raise empathy for the refugees. I was confident and knew what I wanted to do. I went to my Association to apply for funding and received a grant from Vodafone for young women under 30 who want to do something for their community. I was one of only 10 people in Greece who got the grant, thanks to skills I learnt at JLS.

I then got a job in the Greek Guiding Association, I worked for six months as a project manager for this project, I had the tools from JLS to expand what I learnt. After 6 months we worked with a team of volunteers in schools around Greece, then the ministry of education funded us. I worked for two years on the project and in total we reached 6000 students, 500 teachers – it was huge. For me it was amazing the way JLS influenced me to be a change maker in my community. Everything for my project I learnt through JLS. How to approach donors, how to find partners, how to find your team, how to empower your team, how to empower others, how to disseminate the results – all learnings from JLS.

My main takeaway from JLS was being with so many women who had the same values but were from completely diverse backgrounds. We were being told every day, “You are the leaders of the change.” In JLS you hear about so many experiences, and so many ideas of how you can make a social impact. I am still incredibly good friends with the women from the Seminar, so I also made friends for life!

Mary-May Hubert, Canada

Mary May Hubert

I first heard about the Juliette Low Seminar (JLS) during a trip to the WAGGGS World Centre, Sangam, in India, when I was there as a volunteer, and it stuck in my mind.

When I was in school, I studied community recreation and leadership. What we learned there was a single-minded approach to leadership.

Before attending the JLS in Ghana, 2016, I thought I knew what leadership was all about. JLS taught me that leadership is flowing and ever changing.  The whole event made the fact that we are 10 million members worldwide seem far more tangible, surrounded by young women from all around the world, who share your desire to make the world a better place and to make a difference.  And WAGGGS are helping them to grow and lead and flourish.

After going to JLS you realise that everyone can be a leader, and they do things differently, but it takes all types of leaders to create these opportunities.

When we returned to Canada, I felt really energised and knew I wanted to do more – I co-wrote a programme for young women in the Girl Guides of Canada aged 18-30 to help them learn and grow – to learn more about our wider Movement in WAGGGS and about real life issues including dealing with money and the world of work.  I still lead this now.

I also knew that I wasn’t finished with JLS – I wanted to take it further – after a training and development event in Uganda, I was appointed as the facilitator for the Poland hub at the 2019 multi-hub event.  It was intense but so rewarding.  JLS is an opportunity that really helps you grow as a leader in WAGGGS and also in your job, in your regular life.  You become a better person and understand how to help different people thrive and grow.

For a long time, in my volunteering and in my work, people told me I was too young to take on positions of responsibility, that I needed more experience – JLS has given me the courage to break down those barriers – not to take no for an answer – to have the confidence to stand up for myself and go after the roles that I want.  

Ally Hooper, Australia

Ally Hooper

I went to JLS in Sangam in 2015, I was 29 at the time and progressing well in my job as a town planner. I was really impressed with the breadth of backgrounds and professions at JLS. There was a doctor, engineer, computer technicians, academics. I found that really good in terms of how it started conversations.

Prior to the main JLS, I took part in the pre-event programme which was at a school for boys with visual impairment. I had a whole week to teach them about ourselves and where we are from, trying to put the non-formal educational method into a formal educational setting. We were not able to use language or sight to communicate at the school, which forced us to think outside the box. It really helped me with my communication skills and working in a small international team. The theme of my JLS was ‘Dream, Dare, Do’ and we spent two days on each part of the theme. For me, JLS gave me the confidence to say yes to doing things and take the next steps forward. I know I have the skills to get up and do a presentation to the team at work, but I’m often hesitant to put my hands up to say I’ll do it.

After coming back from JLS, a few months later my boss said to me ‘it’s really great to see you stepping up and taking on more leadership’. JLS helped with soft skills, which is what makes Guiding so great to start with. The non-formal education method gives you the skills without sitting you down and lecturing, you get to experience these skills yourself. I have also had so many travel opportunities following JLS, traveling to European Jamborees with JLS friends in Finland and Malta. I have also stayed with JLS friends in the USA and Sweden – one of the best things about JLS is always having a place to stay when I travel!

JLS event fee - $700 AUD

Airfare to JLS - $1000 AUD

Travel insurance & other travel costs - $315 AUD

Giving a young women the courage and confidence to be who she’s meant to be – priceless

Haifa Ourir, Tunisia

Haifa Ourir

I attended the JLS in 2003 at Our Cabaña in Mexico. I was a student at the time, in my last year studying computer science engineering. I had travelled a little before, but at the time, that was the longest travel I had done. Attending JLS was one of the greatest experiences of my younger years. It was mostly about children’s rights. It was really interesting, we had people come from UNICEF in Mexico to deliver sessions. It was my first exposure to people like that from these types of NGOS. It was a real wow moment for me. It was great to get to know the local community and to see that type of community interaction from the World Centres, that overall, we are part of the social network that exists.

JLS has really helped me in my current role today, I am a Manager at an IT/Software company. My training is computer developing. We are not the most gifted with leadership skills, public speaking, etc. but this is all something that Girl Scouting, and Girl Guiding has helped me with a lot. The international aspects (I am in an international company), having this ability to understand people on a cultural level is rea]lly helpful for a job like mine.

Corinna Hauri, Switzerland


I was 23 when I went to JLS in 1993, in Mexico. I had no clue what JLS was and didn’t really know what WAGGGS was. I was studying law, and the JLS topic was something about women and the UN, that’s why I applied.

When I arrived, I realised that other people had to compete to go to JLS, that these people had been picked from 200 others. I was naïve and young to WAGGGs, but what I was doing in my Member Organisation (MO) was a much higher level than what the others were doing. I was at a different level in Guiding. I was already a trainer for leaders. But when it came to WAGGG and JLS I was a complete newbie.

The JLS was my eye opener for WAGGGS, and the work they do. If I hadn’t been there, I would have never ended up in WAGGGS where I did. When I came back from JLS, I said to my International Commissioner, “how can I be that I am a trainer of leaders, and I am at this level in my MO, but I have never heard of WAGGGS or the JLS?”. Two years later I was International Commissioner and was on the National Board. My JLS journey gave me a springboard into these positions. At JLS I first realised what WAGGGS did and offered, it gave me huge motivation to show the rest of my MO what WAGGSS is about. My goal was that other young women would know about these possibilities within WAGGGS. JLS was the catalyst for the different roles I had within WAGGGS, such as the Europe Region Chair and therefore a member of the WAGGGS World Board.

I was International Commissioner for four years, I made sure every time there was a JLS, that someone went. For me JLS was about meeting other young women, we were about 64 from 40 different countries – that made the difference for me. There was someone from Kenya and Zimbabwe that were supporting Guiding in refugee camps. This put my guiding in a completely different context. JLS opened my eyes to the world and what WAGGGS does. The friendships I made at JLS; we recently had a twenty year reunion at Our Chalet, a dozen of us. We made sure that those who wanted to come but didn’t have the means, we pooled together to fund this.

When I went to JLS, at that time on the World Board, it was the first attempt to have women under 30 represented. One of them came to JLS, and to realise that WAGGGS had something to put girls under 30 in a role, and give them a voice, was a real eye opener for me.

Lindell Edgell, Australia

Lindell Edgell

I went to JLS as a facilitator at Sangam World Centre in 2006 when I was on the WAGGGS World Board. I also volunteered for the first JLS in Africa, in Kenya in 2009. This was interesting as we ran a week-long community-based programme before-hand. As a facilitator, we bring together an experience that meets the needs of women all over the world, who are exceptional women in their own right before they come. The planning team must come together to create and execute the vision with the focus on young women. Then after JLS, follow up with Member Organisations to ensure they are continuing to foster opportunities for young women.

For JLS as a participant, it opens their mind to the potential they can have. From the 2006 Seminar, lots of the participants ended up on the WAGGGS World Board. It gives you confidence to believe in yourself, and you form amazing networks. JLS is different to other leadership trainings in that it’s immersive, there is also work before and after the Seminar. JLS forms an international sisterhood, connections form very quickly. The fact that it’s such a safe space to practice leadership is unique from anything else I have seen.

JLS encourages you to tell your own story, to own your story and live your story. In Society today, there’s pressure coming from every direction for you to be someone else. In JLS you learn about what life is like for other people by hearing their story and that’s free of bias as it’s their story. At JLS you’re not laying over your expectations of other people.

Ruchira Jayasinghe, Sri Lanka

Ruchira Jayasinghe

I grew up in a very traditional society and there were always barriers for me and my sister growing up.  Guiding gave us the safety of an all-girl environment – you meet girls and young women who have had opportunities, and this gives you confidence to believe that you could do it too.

When I went to Pax Lodge in 2005 to attend JLS, it was only days after the Tsunami had hit this part of the world – I was travelling alone to London to represent Sri Lanka at an International Event, this was a real change to what I had done in Guiding up until then. I was only 23 years old and I had never been to the UK.  If I hadn’t gone to JLS, I wouldn’t be where I am now. JLS opened up the world to me.

I travelled by myself to meet 47 other young women in London to learn about Our Rights, Our Responsibilities. At that age to listen to something like that, it was eye-opening. I liked everything about JLS. What touched me the most was that people knew I was attending the event, people who hadn’t met me, brought things for me to take home to people who had been displaced by the Tsunami.

Attending JLS took me out of my comfort zone, it gave me the confidence I needed to fly.

My journey with Guiding was just beginning – after JLS I joined the planning team for a regional event in Asia Pacific region, and then in 2007 I was elected to the Regional Committee serving two terms as the youngest on the committee, and I chaired an Asia Pacific Regional Conference.

I wanted to share what I had learned at JLS with as many people as possible.  I travelled all over Sri Lanka and to Cambodia sharing the Our Rights, Our Responsibilities message.

Professionally, I work in the Finance industry. Attending JLS taught me that when I came across a situation where I needed to gather information, I knew where to go, I needed to look for people to talk to and help would come.

JLS has taught me to be confident and always push for what you want to do and educate others to do the same – it is a once in a lifetime opportunity and I can really speak up on that.

Sophy Kotti, Greece

Sophy Kotti

I am originally from Egypt but moved to Greece in 1987 – international opportunities in Egypt were something you couldn’t even dream of. In Greece I was a Guiding leader, and the opportunity came to attend the JLS, this was my first international experience with Guiding. I travelled to Our Chalet in Switzerland; it was beauty that I never thought was real!

During JLS, there were about 50 of us, the sisterhood that was built among us from the very first moment was very strong. My main learning from JLS was the closing session, called ‘how to eat an elephant.’ If you want to eat an elephant you have to cut it into small pieces and deal with it a piece at a time. It is a life lesson, when faced with big issues, take it step by step, little by little, then you can overcome all difficulties you are faced with. JLS taught me how to deal with group dynamics, and how to positively influence a group so they can all develop. I have friendships from JLS dating back more than 30 years, the opportunities to mix with people you would otherwise never have met was a highlight for me. The quality of leadership WAGGGS delivers is compatible to what I have experienced in the academic area. The fact that it gets young women together to learn from each other and develop into even better leaders is unique. Especially in the area of learning by doing, and giving so many opportunities, local, national or international, to test their leadership in a secure and supportive environment.

This has impacted me professionally and I ended up getting a degree in leadership, something I would never have done if it was not for the JLS.

20 years later I chaired the Seminar in the same place, Our Chalet. Girls who attended this JLS are now working in positions of authority, or volunteering at WAGGGS - they are giving back and developing even more. WAGGGS has a good mechanism in spotting and recruiting volunteers. It was from there and another international experience I had that WAGGGS spotted me and got me to develop the World Leadership project, this was in place until the new Leadership Mindsets came along. For me this was an opportunity to give back to WAGGGS what I have gained and what has made me as a person.

Ana Maria Mideros Gadea, Peru

Ana Maria

I started Girl Guiding age seven and went to the Juliette Low Seminar (JLS) at Our Chalet, in Switzerland, in 1983. At that time, I was in university, it was my third international opportunity, but it was my first time travelling to Europe.

The Seminar was about communication and how to improve your communication skills. Participants represented 24 countries. JLS really connected me to the international aspect of the Movement. JLS gave me skills to apply all through my life; understanding other cultures, having appreciation of others and their backgrounds, to always be an open and empathic listener, to understand different points of view, and that by working together we can build something great. We learnt that it is important to understand not only what you are passionate about, but to have a finer purpose in your life and to follow it. Putting goals in place and understanding that happiness is not only what benefits you as a person, but what can I do for others.

JLS built my self-confidence, re-enforcing to me to set goals and work for them. JLS gave me the chance to experience more, and challenge myself more, and gave me the confidence to know I could do it!

JLS gives you power, learning that by everyone working together we can achieve a lot. My contribution in my small community really can impact the world. You feel you are not alone; we are working together, and it builds a network for your whole life. It is a Girl Guiding togetherness that builds a friendship that goes beyond borders.

JLS connected me to the world, and what you can do, and helped me understand you can do a lot with your voice and a lot with your actions to impact the world. Developing this global aspect made me feel like I could do more for the Movement, so I became an International Commissioner, went to Regional Conference, then World Conference and eventually was elected Chair of the World Board. 

People who have been to the JLS feel empowered to continue their time in Guiding, but also look at what they can be doing in ambitious projects beyond Guiding.

In Peru women don’t have the same opportunities as men. I became a partner in a law firm where I was the only woman. So, I really had to stand up for my rights, and people respect that. You have to stand up for yourself with your behaviour and way of speaking. I have supported and encouraged women who have faced bias. From JLS I learnt that we don’t need to accept how things are if we believe they are wrong, we need to stand up to make the changes. You might not see the changes, but people who come after will see what you’ve been fighting for.

At JLS, I discovered more about myself and about what was going on in the world. JLS gave me power to understand that by everyone working together we can achieve a lot and that my contribution in my small community really can impact the world. 

Ginny Radford, New Zealand


I was a young Ranger Leader and a teacher in a small town when I attended the Juliette Low Seminar (JLS) in 1973 at Our Cabaña in Mexico. It was my first taste of international guiding. The theme was development.

One of the things JLS does is it provides an instant introduction, because of values and membership, to someone who you don’t know, who doesn’t speak the same language, and you have an instant link that you can build on. It crosses boundaries and enables you to develop a relationship without being defensive of your values or your language or your country, because you have so much in common. That's the amazing opportunity, at JLS and other international events, you're meeting with young women who have specific values and ideals that are related to yours, but you’ve already had the introduction, you are already in the same organisation. It allows you to develop relationships much more effectively than if you're starting from scratch. And they last.

Our Cabaña was a wonderful place and during the Seminar there were lots of discussions around development opportunities. There were 25-30 young women on our JLS and to have young people around you with similar ideals and enthusiasm was great fun – it was a very special event.

The JLS impacted what I did with my ranger unit when I returned home as prior to this experience we were not aware of, or involved in, international events. JLS inspired me to look wider, and because of JLS, to start looking for international opportunities. I attended the 23rd World Conference in Iran in 1978 as a Young Leader where I met other Young Leaders some of whom I am still friends with today!

I found myself on the National Executive where my exposure to international guiding was an advantage I brought to the role, because in New Zealand we are very far from anyone! I became Assistant Chief Commissioner and was invited to attend the 27th World Conference in Singapore in 1990 where I was nominated for, and appointed to, the WAGGGS Constitutions Committee. In 1996 I was elected to the World Board and in 1999, I was elected to the role of Chair of the WAGGGS World Board.

Of the four young women from New Zealand who attended a Juliette Low Seminar in my era, one became Chief Commissioner, one was an award-winning paediatrician, one was hugely involved in Sangam World Centre and fundraising for them, and one (me) became Chair of the World Board. So all of us are hugely making a difference in our communities!

Elspeth Henderson, Ireland


I can’t stress enough the impact that having started my international experience at JLS, the doorways that opened for me after that. It just happened, I thought I had to be one of the most privileged people.

I joined Girl Guiding in Ireland when I was about 11 years old. When the opportunity came for a Seminar in one of the World Centres, I put my name in for selection and was one of two girls chosen to represent Ireland. It was from that moment that my international Guiding experience took off. Prior to JLS, I didn’t have any concept of the global impact of Guiding, at JLS I met people from every continent – there was a girl there from Peru who had never even seen rain before.

I was launched into a world outside of Ireland, we spoke Guiding in our own countries – my eyes were opened to what it was like to be involved in guiding in Africa, Asia, all over. I realised there’s a global community of people like me who all had a desire that somehow through Guiding, we all wanted to make the world a better place. You realise that we’re a global Movement, I couldn’t ever had imagined the impact Guiding can have on local communities - nationally, globally, and now of course I have experienced this and it’s a huge privilege.

I do believe that WAGGGS has had a huge impact, on communities, and even at government level. When I was Chair of the WAGGGS World Board I had the privilege of gaining an understanding into the impact that global Guiding has. I can never get beyond what I saw, about how much of an impact Guiding has or can have. I have lived in a lifetime of the development of Guiding, the changes are just massive. WAGGGS, through the work of skilled volunteers, have managed to move with the world, often moving ahead of the world, and still stick to the focus of what WAGGGS is about – developing the girls and making the world a better place.

Rocio de Mateo Smith, Mexico

Rocio de Mateo Smith

When I was young, I was very involved with Girl Guides in Mexico. When it came to attending JLS initially, I was disappointed as the year I was able to go, 1963, it was in Mexico, where I was from! But it turned out to be the best thing in the world. It was the start of an international family for me. We have spent so much time together, not just the reunions, but visiting each other when we go to each other’s town or country. JLS was the spark that ignited this incredible thing. We have been meeting up ever since, our last reunion was in Canada in 2019, people bring not only their spouse but their children, that’s how my children met the Japanese children. It’s family. That has been a gift like no other.

At JLS you meet people with the same values, the same sense of self-worth. It’s female empowerment in a way. During the Seminar itself, I realised not only are there different types of people but how similar we are. Attending JLS was the route of a number of things for me. Leadership skills no doubt, but also career choices. I remember applying to graduate school I chose administration because I know I will want to be the boss. JLS helped me to know when the path was there to take it. I ended up having a career working with people with disabilities both at the direct service, at policy level and advocacy level.

Looking back on my JLS experience, if everyone got to attend JLS, we would be in a much better place in this world. There is no question the leadership skills that you gain, and the real sense of female empowerment. You see the JLS leaders in action, and you have female mentors, and are with people with shared interests. Many women who attended my JLS expressed clearly that had it not been for JLS they may not have become the person they became.

Julie Dawson, USA

Julie dawson

In 1954 I had just graduated high school when I attended the Juliette Low Seminar (JLS) at Our Chalet in Switzerland. There were 17 participants from 8 countries, and the event opened my eyes to a bigger world, a world I hadn’t experienced before. The purpose was to learn about one another’s countries and cultures and to go home and work for international understanding and world peace. That’s a tall order for 17-year-olds, but we took it seriously! It broadened our world and gave us a tremendous excitement about learning, to find out more and be a part of this big world.

When we attended the JLS in 1954 this was right after the war. There were a lot of post-war feelings in different countries. We had participants from the US and Germany meeting together. We looked at people as people, we learned from cultures and exchanged ideas.

I was inspired to major in leadership at college, to take leadership roles and to teach leadership skills. For 50 years I worked as an artist, author and speaker. I started my speaking journey on returning home from our Chalet and have given thousands of talks, many of them about Girl Scouting. I worked for Girl Scouts for 10 years producing international events to inspire others the way I was inspired by the Juliette Low Seminar. I’m excited to currently be involved in providing special Girl Scouting for girls in low-income areas.

I’m lucky as I was a participant at the Juliette Low Seminar in 1954, then in 1968 was a leader at the Seminar at Our Cabana in Mexico. In 2019 I continued my involvement with a small role for the JLS seminar at the US Hub.

I am always to this day using and drawing on the knowledge and the excitement of what I learnt at the JLS in 1954, and my personal mission to make this a better world. The friendships I made in 1954 and in 1968 have continued to this day through newsletters, and every 3 years we have a reunion somewhere in the world. Family come, children come, and my Chalet Friends and Cabana Friends have all been introduced. It’s not just friendships, we are also all still learning from each other. We are learning why it’s so important for us as women to be leaders and why we will change the world. I think the future of the world is in the hands of women, we have a unique way of leading and of looking at issues.

JLS is an outstanding opportunity and gives young women a path to the future.

Muriel Taylor, USA

Muriel Taylor

Being chosen to attend the JLS in 1954 at Our Chalet came as a complete surprise to me, to start with I felt unworthy. I felt incompetent to travel on my own, to make big decisions on my own, and doubted that my foreign language training would be adequate to the task.

When I attended JLS, it was still close enough to the end of WWII for the attendees to be still reacting to the prejudices and experiences of their war time lives. We all had to contend with, try to understand, and accept that "leadership" in operation was different from one culture to another. For many of us the JLS experience was personally transformative. We had to deliver group presentations, without a common language, the way we made a campfire differed, our food preferences were very different, we all had to accept and understand critiques of our own ways which produced new insights. These insights have influenced my travels and encounters with other cultures as well as underscored the GS-USA motto of the time: "Look Wider Still".  Without the JLS, I think I would not have thought of trying to practice my profession of psychiatry in New Zealand, nor that I could set up and lead a successful service for adolescents there where the language was only superficially similar and the practice of psychiatry extremely different from the American version I'd been taught!

Participants from my 1954 Our Chalet experience, some of who I am still in touch with nearly 70 years on, all understood that we were meant to "make a difference in the world" and I think all have tried to do so.

Martha Walker, USA

Martha Walker

I went to JLS in 1954, age 18 years old. At the time I had never travelled outside of Tennessee. Coming from a narrow culture, to somewhere where people thought different, problem solved differently, it was an awakening. I had two roommates, one from Pakistan who was Muslim. It was during Ramadan, and I remember with such ease the chalet staff preparing her meals at midnight. The other was from Italy, and she didn’t speak English and I didn’t speak Italian, but we got on!

I am 86 now, and I look back on JLS as one of the most significant things that happened in my life. It influenced who I choose as a husband, it influenced my mothering. The real challenge for a woman then was trying to combine family and a career. My job was teaching, I taught a graduate programme called rehabilitation counselling for 30 years. What I took from JLS is, you don’t relate to a person on superficial basis. It doesn’t matter if they have a severe disability, if they are unable to talk or walk, there is a person there to relate to.

Rehabilitation counselling is all about breaking bias. It’s saying someone with a disability is a person, and the disability is something someone can work around or work with. It doesn’t make that person any less. The notion in Girl Scouting that was directly transferable, is the worth of every individual. No matter how they look, how they talk, that first of all this is a person of worth.

I love teaching, I was recognised as leader. I was President of two national associations for my profession and travelled widely. I was always interested in what is done for the rehabilitation for persons with disabilities in other countries.

When I went to our Chalet, I knew that people were different, such as the foods we ate, where we’re from. It was freeing to learn that there isn’t a difference. We don’t have to speak the same language, we’d find a way to get to know each other and to love each other. The greatest thing about JLS for me is Connectedness, we had a newsletter that we sent for years after, we took turns being the editor. All of us, whatever county we were in we ‘all look at the same stars’ - there was a real connectedness.

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