Putting on Their World Thinking Hats: Girl Scouts Go International

By Alison Rooney 

Philipstown’s Girl Scouts joined together last Sunday, March 6, to participate in the third annual local World Thinking Day celebration.  Each year, around this time, Girl Scouts and Girl Guides (the names differ from country to country, but the programs are almost identical) from all over the world look beyond their communities to acknowledge diversity, and to honor their sister Scouts in countries around the globe through activities, games and projects.  This year’s World Thinking Day had a special focus on the poorer nations of the world and the lives of girls and women in these countries.  The 2011 theme is “girls worldwide say ’empowering girls will change our world.'”  Between them, Girl Scouts and Girl Guides are found in almost 150 countries.
       Locally, this program took the form of a bazaar of tables, one for each of the 12 participating troops, each decorated with flags and other materials specific to the country chosen by the troop, and poster-board displays of aspects of life, history, geography and the culture of these nations.  Each troop also supplied food native to their land, and many dressed in representative costumes.  Several of the troops also prepared a dance or game from their country to share with all of the participants.  Performances displaying an international flair—Argentinean tango dancing from Marilyn and Walter Kane and Irish step dancing from four students at the Kelly-Oster School of dance—complemented the proceedings.
       Upon entering, children were given a passport, with which to collect stamps from each “nation.”  These stamps were only given out after the passport-holder correctly answered a question about that table’s country.  The answers were found by careful scrutiny of the display.  Once the passports were completely stamped, the bearer could present it and receive a World Thinking Day badge.
       The countries represented at this year’s event were Ghana, Indonesia, Botswana, China, Armenia, Thailand, Egypt, Cambodia, Philippines, Haiti, Guatemala and India. This is the third year that troops in Philipstown have participated in this event, and it keeps on growing. It quickly outgrew its first home at the Methodist Church in Cold Spring, and now filled the gym at the Philipstown Recreation Center.  The event is now also attracting non-local troops, visiting and enjoying the occasion, as well as siblings, friends and parents of the Scouts.
       A stop at a few of the tables was an instant culinary journey with corn cakes from Guatemala; dhal from India; satay from Indonesia, rice and beans and corn from Ghana, sweet potato bread from Haiti and magwinya or “fat cakes” from Botswana just some of the treats along the way.
       Girls stationed at the tables provided information on their countries, ranging from tidbits, “In Botswana they use ostrich eggs for a lot of their jewelry,” to almost-dissertations, as one young girl at the Haiti table talked for about ten minutes straight about that complicated island, showing an encyclopedic knowledge, pinballing from topic to topic: “They don’t always get the best education like we do.  For some people, two roosters fighting is entertainment. Because of the earthquake they use cloth that we would use for clothing, for their houses.  Their national bird is the Hispaniolan Trogon and it is grey, red and white. Voodoo is praying to ancestors who died. Girl Scouts helped out there after the earthquake.  There is still a lot of disease. There are nice landmarks like this waterfall on this beautiful tropical island.”  Phew!
       In some instances, troops were able to connect with a local resident, be it a parent or community member from the country they represented.  Father Gabriel Awuafor, Assistant Pastor at Our Lady of Loretto Church, a native of Ghana, spoke to the girls of Troop 2503 about his homeland, as did another Ghanaian who is a neighbor of one of the troop members.
       There are approximately 160 Girl Scouts just in Philipstown.  For information on starting a troop (particularly if you are interested in forming a new Daisy group — for girls who will be kindergarteners in the Fall—there is a need), or joining a troop, please contact local volunteer Community Chair, Deirdre Knapp, at [email protected] or at 845-265-9485.[slide]

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