Three letters. J. L. S.
An acronym. A globally understood, shorthand code, for the leadership and brilliance of a single woman and the legacy event created in her name. Juliette Low Seminar.
A celebration of the visionary leader, instrumental in WAGGGS’ history and development through mobilising 168,000 girls and women to create Girl Scouts USA within 15 years. A true leader.
Remembered as a woman of grit, laughter, creativity and determination – her name and spirit unites us as 35 people here in Gormanston on our leadership journey. All travelling from Member Organisations across the five continents to form the Ireland Hub. Together curious; ready to learn, lead and create change.
By the power of Facebook Live and a sprinkle of imagination, the JLS event began with meeting ‘Daisy’, for a brief introduction. The power of her words and actions timelessly inspirational and a strong call to action, to both the individual and collective. Do something. Today. Be the Change.
“The work of today is the history of tomorrow, and we are its makers.” Juliette Low
Now past the midway mark for the JLS seminar, and there’s a real feeling of possibility here in the Irish Hub. The energy, commitment and vision of participants is palpable. The challenges and mental stamina required taking its toll and all layered with the reality and thoughts of returning home. The idea of home bringing with it questions, nervousness and a little anxiety. What will I do with my power? How will I make it all happen?
And that’s where the power of the collective comes in, we’re all accountable to each other, and there to offer support and encouragement. Bees working together. Being part of the inquiry, interrogating with curiosity as projects are planned.
“One of the most important lessons I’ve learned this week is to look at my community and to identify the gaps I see in them. With honesty. These gaps are still part of the community and JLS has helped me to look outside my little bubble. Focusing my project in the gaps.” Mimi – Finland.
“It’s really important for me to take part in a large global event like this. There are not many girl guides in Spain and I want to take all this knowledge and learning back with me so that they too can then have all the opportunities. So we can be stronger.” Ines – Spain
Storytelling & Solidarity
We’ve also connected with hubs around the world, learning and exchanging ideas. The fun of playing charades with participants in Peru to learn about their experience in the community action day. Listening in to Cate Lobulu, at Kusafiri, Tanzania, sharing her story of transformation from a world of addiction and abuse to one of strength, becoming an advocate for girls rights, better lives, and menstruation hygiene. Reminding us all of the immeasurable value of loving and accepting yourself before being able to take the greatest action in the world and with those around you. Sharing too that random acts of kindness may have a far reaching impact. Recognition is not the purpose nor required to be a change-maker – success has many mothers.
"By connecting, the feeling of existing in a shared humanity feels more real. “I think today was amazing with all the meet-ups and speakers. I’ve got the flame in me and I love all the exchanges on a personal and guiding level. It’s important to hear these inspiring voices, to be inspired and inspire others,” Selina, Austria.
Being Brave – Leading Projects
Today, over 500 JLS participants around the world are committed to bringing change back to their communities and countries. Making a stand for what they cannot un-see and so that SDG5 is a reality.
As visions and projects are put in writing and commitments made, we share a few things from our own phenomenal guest speakers, proposed by the local team from Irish Girl Guides. Introducing Jillian, Niamh and Ciara Beth: A hybrid aspiring astronaut /actor; a children’s rights heavy weight; and tech savvy, app creating social entrepreneur*. Through their stories, they spoke of the extraordinary that was, and is possible, from every day actions. The most important thing being to be in flow and take action. “Only as you take each step, can you see the horizon,” said Jillian.
We explored how fear paralyses us in making decisions and acting. How it may never go away, but can be channelled and used as a force for good. “You’re only afraid because you care. You need to manage fear so that you can use it to your advantage. And know that when you care, it’s infectious for others,” shared Niamh.
“If you have the desire to do something, trust it. If you know you’re right, history will prove you’re right, even when you have to first stand alone,” commented Jillian when referring to her timing to raise the amendment to banning the corporal punishment of children in Ireland.
We were reminded that failure doesn’t mean anything or carry the weight that society has placed on it. “The Oxford Dictionary defines it as, “a lack of success” and that simply means that you haven’t got to the end yet,” quoted Niamh.
Three women making a stand in the world, following their passions, beliefs and conviction that they will leave their mark. We know this inspiration will flow into the creating impactful 100-girl projects alongside our wider lives. We share this with you so it can flow into yours. Be it JLS projects or beyond, to all those taking action leaving the world in a better place. Let’s be our best selves.
“Why did it take so long to lead the life I wanted? … (The change… I learnt that) permissions never come. You can do whatever you want with your life. I just never worked that out till then.” Dr Niamh Shaw – future Mars explorer.
*Empowerment Evening Speakers
Jillian van Turnhout –Children’s Rights Advocate and former Senator and Irish Girl Guides Chief Commissioner. Guide Leader.
Dr Niamh Shaw – Irish engineer, scientist and performer.
Ciara Beth Griffin – Inspirational leader from Galway – Guide Leader, education activist and designer of Mi Contact, an app to help children with autism improve their eye contact skills.
Blog written by Tania Mendes: JLS Facilitator and member of WAGGGS Europe Comms Team.