When I attended the Juliette Low Seminar at the Sangam World Centre in India, I went with the expectation of learning about India, leadership in Guiding, and finding out more about the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS). What came out of my experience in India was so much more.
The theme of the seminar was ‘Dream. Dare. Do.’ – and the dare component was by far the most influential part of the week for me. The first day, we were given a list of activities that we had to rate on a scale of “easy for me to do” to “no way will I ever do this.” The goal was to start to push ourselves out of our comfort zones. We were not forced to complete anything we did not want to do. It was up to each of us to determine how far we wanted to push ourselves.
A few examples of the challenges that some participants faced: holding a snake, learning to swim, speaking in front of a crowd, telling people what you like about yourself, and rappelling down the Sangam water tower. During these few hours, I learned a lot about my willingness to open up to others as well as the comfort that I feel when I am among my sisters in Guiding. I don’t think I could have pushed myself as far as I did if I didn’t have the support of each of the participants.
As part of the seminar, we also visited a local school, where we got the chance to sing and dance with the students, as well as hear about their most recent projects and see what they were studying that day. In India, Scouting is part of the school curriculum for students in year 4, 5 and 9. The students in each of the classrooms were all really excited to see us and so proud to show off their knowledge and abilities. Visiting the school was an amazing experience, where I learned a lot about patience and taking the time to understand others. I also learned about being a leader in a situation with language barriers.
Overall, I learned more in my one week at the Juliette Low Seminar than I ever thought possible. I learned about myself, my fears, my dreams and my motivation as well as the qualities that I admire in others and leaders. I found new drive, passion and motivation in Girl Guiding which rekindled a fire within me to want to do more back in Canada. I learned about the challenges that other cultures face every day, things that we in Canada often take for granted, but I also saw examples of cultures that have flourished in areas where we still struggle. I learned a lot about the theory behind being a good leader, and being able to accomplish what needs to be done while making sure that everyone is satisfied. Most of all, I gained a greater appreciation for WAGGGS and started to realize how impactful this organization is on a global scale. Having only ever been a girl member and Unit Guider, I never really realized how large WAGGGS really is, and how much they are accomplishing on a global scale to change the lives of young men and women around the world.
Over the course of my travels with Guiding, I have gained a greater appreciation for everything that WAGGGS does, and I have had the opportunity to experience things that girls my age don’t usually get to experience. Guiding has given me the chance the challenge myself and I would not have been anywhere near as willing to do so if it wasn’t in an environment in which I felt safe and comfortable.
Guest post by Alison Van der Wee. Alison is a 24-year-old Pathfinder Guider in Community 29 in Ottawa, who has been a member of GGC for 15 years. It had been a seven-year dream of hers to visit Sangam.