Thursday, May 10, 2012

Girl Scouts Forever Green goes international

In February, GSSJC learned it would be one of 20 councils to participate in the expansion of Girl Scouts Forever Green (GSFG) programming through a $1.5 million grant from Alcoa Foundation. We were excited to take on this challenge and be able to offer Girl Scouts living in underserved areas of Houston more environmental awareness programs. The most exciting part? Each GSUSA council will be paired with international Girl Guides to take this 100th anniversary Take Action initiative international.

GSSJC Program Manager Melissa Hardy recently made a trip to London to meet with other Girl Scout councils and Girl Guides from all over the world to discuss how this grant will allow the organization to move GSFG to an international platform.

We caught up with Melissa for a quick Q&A to get some inside information on the project and how GSSJC Girl Scouts can get involved. Click here to go directly to the sign-up information on the CIN.

GSSJC: What was your favorite part of your trip to London ? 
MH: One of my majors was in history, so I just loved seeing the old buildings—the famous ones as well as the not so famous but interesting ones. Knowing that these places have stood the test of time was awe-inspiring. But equally so was meeting the staff from 19 other councils and volunteers from 13 other countries  who are so excited and committed to work with girls on this amazing opportunity. 

GSSJC: What sneak peeks into the GSFG project can you share with us?
MH: GSSJC was one of 20 councils to receive a grant from the Alcoa Foundation to develop a year-long environmental twinning project. This effort matches a GSUSA council with another country with Girl Guides to collaborate on a Girl Scouts Forever Green project, chosen by the girls, and implemented by those girls in both countries. All locations chosen are areas where Alcoa has a presence.

GSSJC: What makes the GSFG project going international – and GSSJC being chosen as one of only 20 councils to participate – so exciting? 
MH: This is a unique opportunity for GSSJC and for the 15 girls who work on the project. Our girls will work with 15 girls from our partner country. Through this process, all 30 girls will become better global citizens and champions for the environment.

GSSJC: What can GSSJC girls expect as a member of the twinning planning team? 
MH: The girls will determine the scope of the project and how it will be implemented. They will plan their project in conjunction with the 15 girls in our partner country. Working jointly, the girls will engage a total of 400 youth in both countries.

GSSJC: As the project progresses, what is the overall goal?
MH: There is more than one goal. There is the definite goal that the projects chosen and implemented by the girls will have a positive impact on their communities, and that in developing these projects and bringing them to fruition, all of the girls will have an amazing leadership experience. In addition, the girls from both countries will have tremendous exposure to very different cultures than their own. I expect a great deal of “eye-opening” on both sides which will lead to friendships and hopefully a sense that the world is a smaller place.

GSSJC: Who is our partner country and what can our girls look forward to learning from them? 
MH: The United Arab Emirates. In talking to my partner, who is the international commissioner of Girl Guides for the UAE, I realized that there are great differences in our cultures but also similarities. Most of the girls she works with have iPhones, for example. I think that our girls will be interested in discovering the differences but also the many ways that all girls, no matter where they live, are the same in so many ways.

GSSJC: How can girls in our Council get involved in this exciting program? 
MH: We are just starting the process of selecting girls. The application will be posted on the CIN shortly but girls can always contact me at Girls must be 14-17 years old and interested in working with other girls on a year-long environmental project.

GSSJC: Anything else to add for our readers?
MH: I will end where this all began 100 years ago. As Juliette Low said, “Girl Scouting and Girl Guiding can be the magic thread that links the youth of the world together.”

Big thank you to Melissa for taking time out of her busy schedule to chat with us!