Back at the Atlanta airport, and now back home.... I promised Madison and Sa'Haara that I would try not to cry, but I made no guarantees (they saw how sappy I got at the closing ceremony!). I did good and didn't cry again until later, so at least I was able to spare them that embarrassment.
We were in Chicago for barely a week, but so much had happened in that short time. 308 girl scouts and guides, 219 young adults, facilitators, and staff, 78 council volunteers, 79 countries and 89 councils were there being represented. In other words, over 600 of us came from all around the world to make a change, and we did it!
By the end of the forum, I heard so many people make the same comment. They said that it was amazing how we all felt so close in such a short time. I find that statement to be completely true! I came in knowing two people and came out knowing hundreds, all of whom are amazing ladies. Even my room mate, Emer, has already become a great friend whom I miss dearly!
During our first evening in Chicago, we very briefly met Anna Maria Chavez. I was content to hang back and take pictures of the girls, but Anna Maria very graciously pulled me aside for a quick moment and said thanks for everything you're doing. Puzzled, I simply said thank you, shook her hand and walked away. Once I was back home and sifting through all my patches and SWAPS to show my daughter, I found that she had slipped me one of her own patches.
Knowing that she remembered Sa'Haara, I really shouldn't be surprised, but I am! We've had a few amazing CEOs over the years, but I must admit, Anna Maria is my favorite to date. Oh, and remember how I told you she got down and boogied with the girls during the opening ceremony? According to the WAGGGS GWF blog Madison was one of them!!!
I know, I know, now I'm just bragging, but I gotta! These girls kicked some butt!
Remember how the ladies from Africa came together?
If that's not enough to inspire you, then maybe this will.....
The amazing Helen, the adult delegate from UK, shared a poem with us. Oh, but her words were not the end of the inspiration that was all around us the entire time.
Remembering our closing ceremony and what Dr. Terarai Trent said to us, there were a few things that stuck in my head.
At the end of her speech, she said something that nearly shocked me. She said this was the first time she had ever been around this many empowered young women at once. I simply assumed that being a woman of her caliber, she had been around groups like us before. Still, it was comforting to hear from an outsider that they thought we were doing good things.
So, here we are, back at home. I know some of you are dying to know what the girls take action projects are. I have to warn you all, you are about to read about some serious awesomeness!
Sa'Haara was inspired by MDG 3 (promote gender equality and empowering women). She has decided to start her project out by creating a workshop at her school about teen pregnancy prevention and self-esteem, with the possibilities of expanding to a local shelter or church.
Madison was not only inspired by MDG 7 (environmental sustainability), but she was also inspired by our take action day. She has chosen to help establish a similar urban garden within her community.
As for me, I accidentally came home with a take action project too. The baby steps would be to advocate for the Global Action Award within my council. The marathon would be to create a series pathway that not only allows girls to earn the Global Action Award, but also earns them the WAGGGS Global Action Theme badge and empowers them to do similar take action projects (which could have potential for being a Bronze, Silver or even Gold Award).
Now, for the million dollar question- did we really make a difference? YEAH WE DID! I know, it might be too early to tell how much of a difference we made, but I think the proof is evident from our take action day. Even looking at photos from friends in what their groups did during their take action day, I know that everyone left their foot print in Chicago in a profound way, and in due time, we'll have our foot prints left all around the world.