Allison Hooper of Girl Guides Australia wrote about her experience at the Juliette Low Seminar in Sangam World Centre in February 2015.
DREAM. DARE. DO - A powerful theme for a week long journey in leadership, self discovery, cultural learning and friendship. A giant banner hanging from Sangam’s iconic water tower challenged 50 young women from 47 countries to become the leaders we want to be at the 2015 Juliette Low Seminar, held in India from 8-14 February.
The journey started with ‘dreaming’ of leaders of yesterday, today and tomorrow, reflecting on how we saw ourselves as leaders, and then testing our leadership abilities by undertaking the Pune Challenge. In groups of three we explored Pune city, finding landmarks, learning of its history, and trying to find lunch for 28 rupees each – the amount of money someone living below the poverty line in India has to live on each day.
From dreaming we started to ‘dare’, challenging ourselves through physical and mental challenges in and around Sangam. There was a stream of abseilers off the Sangam water tower, an exercise boot camp, snake petting, housecleaning, and taking a local bus to a nearby town centre and buying food. Some people even decided to do this without talking. We also had the opportunity to visit with some of Sangam’s community partners, to witness first hand the impact of those leaders who did dare to make a change.
And then we were challenged to ‘do’, with the opportunity to meet and discuss with a variety of leaders their journeys and the steps they took to get where they are – including a Skype interview with the Chair of the World Board for WAGGGS, Nicola Grinstead. We were introduced to the book and documentary ‘Half the Sky’, which highlights the exploitation of women in all corners of the globe. We also got started on our action plans for how we could implement our new found skills and confidence at home.
But some of the best times were out of session. One of my favourite moments is braving the cool water of the Sangam pool to help teach another participant how to swim during afternoon break. I’ve never taught someone to swim before, but my new friend challenged herself just by putting on a swimming costume. There was also learning about other cultures, trying different foods, sari shopping and singing happy birthday to other restaurant diners, and being part of one of the best international concerts ever. But all good things must surely come to an end, and what better way to celebrate new friendships and to finish another successful JLS than by sharing our Guiding Light at a campfire. Everyone holds the key to their future, they just need to use it to unlock their potential.