Submitted by Krista B., 2017 “Look Wider” International Travel Scholarship winner
Northern & Northeastern CO
Girl Scouts has been a part of my life since I was nine-years-old and trying on my first Brownie uniform. The opportunities afforded me by Girl Scouts have shaped my life and who I am. Through Girl Scouts, I have been able to do a significant amount of international travel and on these trips I have made lasting friendships with Girl Guides and Girl Scouts all over the world.
Most recently, I had the opportunity to visit Sangam World Centre in Pune, India with the assistance of the “Look Wider” International Travel Scholarship. Ever since returning home from a stint as the Programme Intern at Pax Lodge, I have been itching to visit another World Centre. The World Centres (there are five in all: Pax Lodge, Our Cabaña, Our Chalet, Sangam, and Kusafiri) have a peculiar magic about them. I have stayed in many international youth hostels, but I have found that the World Centres are so much more than a hostel. They are a welcoming environment that values international perspectives. The diverse staff, volunteers, and guests create an amazing and unique place. One of the best parts about Girl Guiding and Girl Scouting is how easy it is to make friends. Despite different backgrounds, cultures, and experiences, we are all connected by our passion for moulding young women of courage, confidence, and character.
The event I attended at Sangam was a week-long event called “Be the Change: International Women’s Day.” The event was concerned with giving its participants the tools and knowledge to be the change they wish to see in the world. We also got to celebrate International Women’s Day with one of Sangam’s community partners, Maher, which is a home that takes care of orphans, women, and children who are victims of domestic violence, women with mental disabilities, and women who have been rejected by their families for any reason.
The participants represented five countries: India, Albania, Rwanda, Ireland, and the United States. I absolutely loved meeting the Guides and learning about their organizations and about amazing women from their countries. We explored Pune in small groups and Lata (from India) made sure that Viviane (from Rwanda) and I made it where we were supposed to go and didn’t overpay for rickshaws. I learned from Ardita (from Albania) that Albania’s Girl Guide organization is very new, and she is one of the first Guide leaders in her country. Manisha (from India) taught me to count to 10 in Hindi and showed us all a thing or two about Bollywood dancing. Viviane (from Rwanda) showed me the traditional dress from her country and Fiona (from Ireland) shared stories from her Guides in Dublin.
I found India to be an incredible place, nothing like I had experienced before. The culture is so rich and the country is thick with colors and scents that I found I didn’t have the vocabulary to name. I was struck most by the sense of community, both within Sangam and within the community partners they support. With the Green Tara Foundation, we visited one of the many slums in Pune and I loved learning songs and games from the young women they work with there. Green Tara focuses on educating young women, although they do not turn away anyone who wants to learn. I taught one of my favorite camp songs, Fred the Moose, and learned a new game from them.
At the end of the week, I was sad to leave. I had come 8,040 miles from my university to Sangam and now it was time to return so I could go class bright and early Monday morning. I loved the time I spent in India and I only wish I had been able to spend more time there. At Sangam’s gate, I leaned out the car window and waved to all of my new friends as they sang me off with “Happy journey, happy journey, happy journey, on you go…”
“Look Wider” International Travel Scholarships are made possible by the Rae Ann and Richard Dougherty Look Wider International Travel Fund Endowment at Rose Community Foundation. Thanks to this generous commitment, Girl Scouts of Colorado will award scholarships to girls every year.
Learn more about Girl Scout destinations and other international travel at forgirls.girlscouts.org/travel. Applications for destinations travel are due before Thanksgiving each fall. The application for the “Look Wider” International Travel Scholarship is available from November through February and is meant for individual girl travel. Read more about Global Girl Scouting and how to get involved atgirlscoutsofcolorado.org/global-girl-scouting.