By Elisabeth Buckley, a volunteer with the Girl Scouts of the Jersey Shore.
I had always wondered if there were other young women around the world who were as passionate about Girl Scouting as I am. Recently, I found the answer to my question. Yes!
In November I had the distinct honor of representing the Girl Scouts of the USA at the Juliette Low Seminar at Our Cabaña in Mexico, a high profile event that has been creating personal and leadership development opportunities for young women for 80 years. The seminar is held every three years at one of the WAGGGS World Centers.
The event theme was “Sprit of Women Leading” which represented a journey of discovery, empowerment, building membership capacity and lifelong friendship. By interacting with participants from 37 different countries all under one roof I was able both better appreciate and learn from the richness and diversity offered by the World Association of Girl Guiding and Girl Scouting (WAGGGS).
Each day of the seminar focused on a different theme. Through the theme “The Spirit of Me” we discussed that a leader is incomplete without knowing where she comes from, what makes her who she is, and where she wants to go. “The Spirit of Women” theme allowed us to delight in a walk to the Pyramids of Cuernavaca. We were able to reflect on our leadership journey thus far and discuss the challenges and opportunities for women in different countries while considering the dilemmas a leader might face.
“The Spirit of Leadership” kicked off with two inspiring women speaker sharing their life stories – Natalia, a young environmental scientist and Lourdes (Lulu),the director of the first inclusive daycare in Mexico for children with and without disabilities. Their powerful stories were followed by aleadership reflection session in which welearned a method to analyze our own challenges.True support and friendship were demonstrated as we tried to solve the situations presented by listening deeply and intently to one another. Before concluding the day, we visualized our lives in five years time. Together, we pictured our dreams for our personal lives, professional careers and Girl Guiding/Girl Scouting activities and discussed what steps we will need to take to make our dreams come true.
The theme of the forth day was “The Spirit of Action”. We divided up into patrols to prepare and deliver a session at VAMOS, an organization that serves children and elderly people in the poorest regions of the state of Morelos. My patrol conducted a session on budgeting for a group of women who sell things at the market. Although we were challenged by translation, the center director said she had never seen these women open up as much before.
In “The Spirit of WAGGGS” session we debriefed our action day and learned more about WAGGGS from the Deputy Chair of the World Board, Nicola Grinsted. We provided input on ways to increase membership in the movement before wrapping up the day with a fun international evening of sharing food, dance and souvenirs from our countries.
“The Spirit of JLS in ME” theme concluded the event with a final flag ceremony and personal action planning before we each made a pledge about what we want to achieve upon returning home. We ended our time together with a proper Mexican celebration – a fiesta including a traditional mariachi band and even a piñata.
Now, it’s time for action! Through these events, I believe we can grow and strengthen the worldwide movement so that we can become the voice of girls and young women globally. This event continues to inspire me to take on greater responsibilities in Girl Scouting, in my community and in my personal and professional life.