In Northern Virginia, a Girl Scouts Service Unit hosted a World Thinking Day event, which brought together over 150 Girl Scouts from different local troops. World Thinking Day – February 22nd – is an international event celebrated by Girl Guides and Girl Scouts around the world. Each year, the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS) selects a theme for World Thinking Day. This year’s theme was “Impact” which focused on how Girl Guides and Girl Scouts can learn about their personal impact on the world and contribute to their communities. World Thinking Day is also an opportunity to understand that there is a big world beyond the neighborhoods we live in.
To help bring World Thinking Day into context, each troop learned about, and put together a display about, a country and the scouting programs in that country. To offer an ever deeper international insight, several CCI participants studying at Northern Virginia Community College helped prepare for, and participated in, the Girl Scouts event.
Maria Eiman (Pakistan), Mamello Moloi (South Africa), Kaveri Aavula (India), Ayesha Alam (Bangladesh), and Lara da Silva Pontes (Brazil) shared various aspects of their culture with the local Girl Scout troops. Each participant had a table display with information about their country and spoke to girls ages 5-18 about their native languages, history, and culture. Mamello and Lara helped the troop learn about South Africa and Brazil through presentations, artifacts, and songs and Mamello even baked a South African dish, malva pudding, which was served to all the scouts. During the closing ceremony, Ayesha sang her national anthem in Bengali and explained the translation and meaning of the song.
The Girl Scouts were excited to learn not just about the culture and lives of girls in other countries, but also about scout life around the world.
CCI participant Maria, who is an active Junior Guide Leader in Pakistan, spoke to the girls about what scouting looks like in Pakistan. The Girl Scouts were interested in what the scouts in Pakistan wear (white tunics with a green sash) and what activities they do when they go camping. Maria even shared how the Girl Guides in Pakistan participate in World Thinking Day. A highlight for Maria was getting to try Girl Scout cookies, which are not offered in Pakistan, for the first time.
But it wasn’t only the Girl Scouts who learned about other countries and cultures. Lara said the event helped her understand the purpose of the Girl Scouts in the United States, saying “it’s not only about involving girls in activities, but empowering them to be confident enough to seek something that they are passionate about.”
Kaveri, who is from India, said that even though there is a Girl Guides Association in India, she had not heard of it before. “I learned scouting is important to build confidence and self-esteem, to learn life skills and leadership skills, team building, and experience outdoor adventures and fun.” Kaveri added that she would like to start a Scouts group in her village to help bring the experience of the Scouts to young girls in her community.
In the spirit of this year’s World Thinking Day theme, by joining together to reflect, CCI international exchange participants and young girls in the United States were able to see how girls around the world can make an impact through their actions, sense of understanding, and leadership.