What did you do for your Gold Award project?
My project is called, “A Week in Our Lives.” Imagine living a week in another person’s “world.” What kind of things do they like to do? What are their challenges? What makes them happy? I created my project to answer these basic questions and more. Webster defines tolerance as, “the willingness to accept feelings, habits, or beliefs that are different from your own.” Throughout my life I have witnessed a lack of understanding and acceptance of people who are different, including my brother who has a disability. Our news is filled with stories of intolerance and clashes over immigration, equal rights, and refugees. We live in a global community, and my project encourages people to embrace each other’s differences and live in harmony.
Through my love of photography, I wanted to develop cultural understanding by showing how people around the world live day to day. Photography is a powerful communication tool that needs no translation. The medium doesn’t deceive. It can show pure joy or the stark reality of a situation. In turn, an image can inspire people to take action and create positive change.
To get participants from other countries and diverse backgrounds, I formed partnerships with various international organizations. I sent out 170 kits to people from all over the world who generously opened their homes, hearts, and minds to boldly display their lives through photographs and answers to my questions. Through my partners, I donated digital cameras to places where people may not have access to the technology. The profiles and photos of 53 people from 6 continents, 23 nations, and 9 different states within the USA are displayed on my Facebook page.
Working with Compassion International, I learned that there are children around the world who live in extreme poverty; however, they can grow to be successful and independent with local and global community involvement. I was also able to visit the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, deliver cameras, and teach kids about the project. These events inspired me to further develop my project as a book and a short film, also called “A Week in Our Lives.”
I hope you will check out my Facebook page at facebook.com/aweekinourlives, be inspired by the beautiful photographs and heartwarming stories, and learn how you can take action in to create positive change your community!
How did you measure the impact your Gold Award project made on your target audience?
In the year and a half of work on my project, I sent out 170 AWIOL Kits, including 35 cameras, to people on six Continents. Participants ranged from five-months to 81-years-old and were from 23 different Nations and nine U.S. states. One of my participants is now in Antarctica, so I hope to make it seven Continents soon.
250 books were published and distributed to participants, partners and communities around the world. I shared my project with over 6,000 people at multiple community events and presentations including the Maker’s Faire and youth groups. In addition, I held and film and book premiere event for the community at the 21C Library. At each event, I provided hands-on educational activities and Take-Action opportunities to help developing communities around the world. Over $1500 in items were donated for Camera Kits and Take Action Projects.
How is your project sustainable? How will your project continue to impact after your involvement?
The Facebook Page will remain up after the project so other people can see and learn from it. At the end of July, Kate Vogt, an editor of international poetry books, will take over the page. Every participant received a book, as well as local community organizations and schools. The book has pages with Take Action ideas and information on the United Nation’s Global Goals for Sustainable Development for readers. The book and movie are to be used as tools so that people can learn from each other and enhance their world view. The donated cameras that were delivered to kids in developing countries will continue to be used as a unique method of storytelling and a way of highlighting challenges and issues in their community. I encourage every person that learns from my project to make a difference in their communities.
What is your project’s global and/or national connection?
My whole project was designed to make national and global connections through partners and participants thanks to the use of photography and social media.
What did you learn about yourself?
I have learned so much about myself over the course of this project. The most important thing for me personally is that I am capable of more than I ever even imagined. This project has taught me how to work with adults and lead them. I also learned that I am similar to other people all over the world; as I never thought I would find so many commonalities with the people who participated in this project. It seems that we all have similar interests and beliefs on what makes a person happy, and so much more. For instance, nearly all participants (78%), said that being with family and friends made them happy. Many of the participants also love to travel and have lived all over the world. 52% said that they wear jeans, and 6 of the girls have brothers with Autism. I have discovered a new passion for helping people and even a possible career path working with Non-Profit organizations that are making a difference in the world.
How will earning your Gold Award impact you in the future?
Earning my Gold Award has opened so many doors for my future. I have established strong connections with many adults over the duration of the project, along with my participants. I am now interested in pursuing a career where I can help others who are facing horrible situations, like the Yazidi IDP’s, who most people would call refugees. IDP stands for Internally Displaced Peoples, and when one of my partner organizations, Global Hope Network, visits a camp, they take seeds to help the people sustain their food supply. They also train leaders to identify the needs and challenges in their community and solve the problems with local and sustainable resources.
Why do you feel the Gold Award was an important part of your Girl Scout experience?
The Gold Award has been important in my time as a Girl Scout because I have been able to talk to so many younger Girl Scouts about what it means to earn the Gold Award. Many of the people I talked to were working on one of the highest awards in Girl Scouts, and they told me about their wonderful ideas for their projects. It was so cool to see that my project might inspire other girls as they begin their journey towards earning their Gold Award.
How did earning your Gold Award help you become a G.I.R.L. (go-getter, innovator, risk-taker, leader)?
I think my Gold Award has helped me in becoming a G.I.R.L. mostly by helping me become a go-getter. When I first proposed my project to the committee, they thought the project was over laden with challenges and that I would not come close to meeting my impact goals, although they didn’t tell me this at the time. After giving my final report a year and a half later, every one of them told me how touched they were by it, and that I went above and beyond what even they thought was possible. I was determined to make this project as big and the best that it could be, and I couldn’t be happier with the results.
**IMPORTANT NOTE: This blog represents only a small fraction of the hard work, dedication, and requirements that go into earning a Girl Scout Gold Award. It is simply a brief summary, which is meant to inspire Girl Scouts to Go Gold in the future. For more information on earning your Gold Award, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.