Girls World Forum in Chicago

Eloise Golden and Alison H attended the Girls World Forum in Chicago, Illinois as representatives for Girl Scouts of Central California South. Below is the day to day activities at the Girls World Forum.

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Guest Blog Post by: Eloise Golden, Girl Scout Alumna

7/11/2012 (Wednesday)

We arrived in Chicago today to join several hundred young women – Girl Scouts and Girl Guides – aged 14 to 18 along with chaperones, volunteers, facilitators and staff from Girl Scout Councils all over the USA. Tonight we met together for an informal gathering after dinner where the girls had an opportunity to exchange S.W.A.P.’s (for the initiated that means Something With A Pin – a favorite Girl Scout tradition)! It was a fun evening and everyone is looking forward to the Opening Ceremony tomorrow morning. After the casual dinner Connie Lindsey, National President of the Girl Scouts USA, and Anna Marie Chavez, Chief Executive Officer of GSUSA, spoke briefly to the girls, welcoming them to the Forum and inviting them to all have a magnificent time learning and meeting new friends.

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7/12/2012 (Thursday)

The wonderful opening ceremony was so colorful with flags being furled from 145 Member Organizations (M.O.’s)! Over 80 countries are represented at the Girls World Forum and an estimated 600 Girl Scouts and Girl Guides are in attendance including girls, volunteers and facilitators. Melinda Carroll, renowned Girl Scout singer/songwriter from Maui, Hawaiian Islands, led everyone in song after the flag ceremony was complete. Welcoming addresses were given by Connie Lindsey, National President of GSUSA and Anna Maria Chavez, CEO of GSUSA along with the CEO for the Chicago Girl Scout Council and a WAGGGS staff member. Sejal Hathi, founder of Girls Helping Girls, gave an inspirational Keynote Address which had the impact of giving girls and adults the realization that great change for the good can begin with one fifteen year-old girl.

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What an exciting day for girl delegates and chaperones and volunteers and facilitators! Girls and Adults spent the day learning about the eight Millenium Development Goals (MDG’s). The United Nations created these goals with the intent to be completed by 2015. Girl Scouts and Girl Guides have joined forces with the United Nations to work on three of the eight goals. These include:

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#1 – Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger

#3 – Promote gender equality and empower women

#7 – Ensure environmental sustainability

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The young women attending the Forum are being asked to create a Take Action Project which deals with one of the above issues in their own communities. The girls are being given tools to do this during their sessions throughout the Forum. Girls and chaperones are requested to reflect over what they each had learned during the day to reinforce new found knowledge and begin to discuss what Take Action Projects they might work on once they return to their home.

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7/13/2012 Friday

We had a very early start today and were on the bus to Brookfield Zoo by 7:00 a.m.! The intent for today was to learn more about MDG #7 regarding environmental sustainability in partnership with the Chicago Zoological Society. Besides being a fun day at the zoo a lot of knowledge was gained about how changes in the environment are dramatically impacting animals on our planet. Because of illegal logging operations in some countries, the natural habitat for many species is being destroyed and, therefore, many of these animals are nearing distinction. Girls learned what kinds of things they can do to promote the longevity of animals, even if these species live on other continents.

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The evening was free to do a little exploring in Chicago and many girls, along with chaperones, had a great desire to go check out that famous deep dish Chicago pizza!

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 Allison, and her two new friends from Japan!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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7/15/2012 Sunday

Today was spent in sessions at the hotel. Girls and adults once again met separately. The adults learned more techniques on how to effectively support our young women when they go back to work on their Take Action projects. They were able to select from a variety of different topics so they could learn what might help the most in their country or community. For me personally, the best class I attended was a Leadership Development Class. Although I teach the Gold and Silver Award program to young women in our council, I am frequently asked by parents, leaders and project advisors, “What is my role in her project?” We certainly want and need to keep all our programs “Girl-led”, but sometimes have difficulty figuring out just how to do that. I learned some great techniques and tools for that today.

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A goal for each of the delegates is to perform a Take Action Project when they return home. As a result of that, Chaperones and Delegates were asked to meet at least 30 minutes each day to discuss what each had learned and to begin formulating a Take Action Project idea. By making a specific plan for a project the delegates will be more likely to succeed.

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During the evening we were able to explore the City of Chicago while doing a Scavenger Hunt! We were given a map with 8 stations to visit. At each station we received a card which explained some information about one of the Millennium Development Goals. Allison and I had a wonderful time doing the scavenger hunt; especially after we joined forces with delegates from Ireland! We sang their way through downtown Chicago singing all our favorite Girl Scout Songs! There is no doubt this will be a treasured memory!

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 ~Eloise Golden

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