Thursday, August 2, 2012

Guest post: Girls' World Forum

In July girls from 145 countries and 100 U.S. councils met in Chicago to address the world's most urgent challenges at the Girls' World Forum. From ending poverty and hunger to focusing on ways to empower women and promote gender equity, Girl Scouts used their leadership skills to devise solutions to these issues. GSSJC was one of the councils represented and in this week's guest post Senior Girl Scout Kalpana V. shares her experiences in Chicago.

GSSJC Girl Scout Hannah C., GSSJC Volunteer
Kelly Brouillard and GSSJC Girl Scout Kalpana V.
By Kalpana V.
Senior Girl Scout

Girls’ World Forum: The only place where you can eat breakfast with a girl from India, lunch with a girl from Taiwan and dinner with a girl from Australia.

This summer I was awarded the opportunity to go to Chicago and represent Girl Scouts of San Jacinto Council at the Girls’ World Forum 2012. It was one of the events in the centenary celebration of Girl Scouting.

To say that the trip was amazing is an understatement. I was able to meet girls from all over the world, including countries that I had never heard of before, all while learning about three of the United Nation’s Millennium Development Goals: poverty, environmental sustainability and gender equality and women empowerment.

The best part about it all was learning about every single culture. I also spent a day learning about environment sustainability at the Chicago Zoo and attended a variety of interactive workshops and panels, such as amazing sessions about the Palm Oil Crisis and global warming which included a trip to the Chicago Center for Green Technology.

One evening we had an international night. I got to try salt-covered candy from Finland, avocado frosting from San Diego (yes, California), and I got to watch people perform native songs and dances. But to be completely honest, I think I was most excited to see all the traditional outfits. I felt weird showing up in a pair of jeans and a T-shirt while all these other girls had on gorgeous dresses with gorgeous designs on them.

Kalpana enjoying the Chicago skyline
from a Lake Michigan beach.
Now to the serious part: the MDG's. The information I got from the sessions we attended would blow your mind. For example, did you know that in some countries girls are married at the age of 12 and have their first child by 13 or 14? It definitely made me realize how lucky I am to live the way I live. I will for sure not take anything for granted anymore and try to make a change in my community.

Going to Chicago was an experience I will never forget. I have made friends for life and learned a million things I didn’t know before.

Kalpana V. is freshman at Austin High School. She has been a Girl Scouts for 10 years with Troop #724 in Rainbow Stars Service Unit, and she is currently working on designing her Gold Award project aimed at increasing STEM education.