34th World Conference – Day 5 (Friday 15th July 2011)

The last day of the 34th Wold Conference very quickly arrived.  The week has been filled to the brim with sessions, meetings, networking time, celebrations and team meetings.

The last day started, as each day has, with our safety briefing, except this time we had to show how much we remembered and say the safety briefing back to the conference coordinator!   I think we got it right…at least there wasn’t a fire to test how much we actually remembered!

Before commencing sessions, we had Reflections for the very last time, reflecting on our time spent at the World Conference.  This included singing the World Song and World Conference song (the delegation can be booked in advance for any performances).

We first heard from the Olave Baden-Powell Society (www.ob-ps.org) who raise money to support the Mission of WAGGGS.  They are dedicated to ensuring that girls and young women are given the opportunity to change the world.

WAGGGS Awards were then handed out.  This was an extremely momentous occasion for Girl Guides Australia as Eltham Echidna Ranger Guides (Melbourne) were awarded an Olave Award for their project which raised funds to build a much needed first aid post for residents of Rah Island, Vanuatu.  The girls visited the community in 2010 and helped build a seawall to protect the building from storms and floods.

Linden Edgell, retiring Deputy Chair of the World Board, received a bronze WAGGGS medal for her dedication to world Guiding and her work with WAGGGS over a number of years.

Other awards presented were:

Centenary Awards to the UPS Foundation (great global partners of WAGGGS) and Princess Beneditke, who is the patron of the Olave Baden-Powell Society and the Global Girls Fund.

Bronze WAGGGS medal to Kirsty Gray, ex-Chair of the World Board; and Della Salway, retiring Treasurer of WAGGGS.

Margaret Treloar, retiring Chair of the World Board, was awarded the silver WAGGGS medal for her work and dedication to WAGGGS and world Guiding.

After celebrating these accolades, made to some very deserving awardees, we moved into discussing and voting on the proposed motions.

We can let you know that a pilot program has been approved for the investigation and development of a 5th World Centre in Africa.  Those Member Organisations from the Africa Region were celebrating.  This has been some time coming and a report will be produced to the 35th World Conference.  The 5th World Centre will not be a physical building but will be roving.  It will allow a greater number of African girls and young women to experience international Guiding and training.

The WAGGGS Strategic Plan for 2012-2014 was approved.  This Strategic Plan will ensure that we (WAGGGS, Regions and MOs) can reach the Vision 2020…ensuring that all girls and young women are valued and can take action to change the world.

The Conference also approved a “preparatory gathering” for young women under 30 years of age prior to the next World Conference to ensure they have the necessary skills to be able to participate in the decision-making made at a World Conference.

Hong Kong were successful in their bid to hold the 35th World Conference.  All MOs will be heading to Hong Kong in 2014.

The World Conference was then bought to a close with Liv Arnesen, polar explorer, as a keynote speaker, talking about her amazing expeditions and the expedition planned for next year for a group of women to ski across Antarctica.  This is one very inspirational woman.  More information can be found on www.yourexpedition.com.

We had a wrap-up of the Conference from Linden Edgell and Margaret Treloar, with both stating that they were positive about the outcomes of the Conference with some very good decisions being approved by the MOs.

The MOs in attendance then celebrated…singing the World Conference Song, hearing from the new Chair and Deputy Chair of the World Board, thanking the organisers of the Conference and the service team for their assistance during the week, saying farewell to retiring Board members and welcoming the new members, and watching the handing over of the World Flag from Girlguiding UK to the Hong Kong Girl Guide Association.

We then headed to The Dynamic Earth for an official closing dinner.  This was another fantastic venue.  Much celebrating was done and many farewells made as we realised it would be another 3 years before we were all together again.

On behalf of the GGA delegation (Helen, Natasha, Allison and myself), we thank you for supporting us in getting to the World Conference and your continual feedback whilst we have been at Conference, particularly through comments on Facebook.  It has been lovely to be able to share our adventures with all Guides at home, along with their parents and other Guiding supporters.


Renée Bianchi


Filed under: Guide stories No Comments

34th World Conference – Day 4 (Thursday 14th July 2011

Day 4 of the World Conference has been very eventful. The highlight has been the voting for the 6 new members of the World Board, and 2 substitute members. The following candidates were elected:
• Jill Zelmanovits (Canada)
• Teruko Wada (Japan)
• Shaleeka Abeygunasekera (Sri Lanka)
• Fiona Hartnett (New Zealand)
• Nicola Grinstead (UK)
• Michelle February (South Africa)
• Niumaath Shafeeg (Maldives, Substitute 1)
• Florence Chidiogo Enemuo (Nigeria, Substitute 2)

The new Chair of the World Board is Nadine El Achy from Lebanon, and the new Deputy Chair is Sapreet Saluja from the USA. We know that they will continue to lead WAGGGS into the future.

The second keynote speech of the Conference was delivered by Catherine Stihler, the only female Scottish Member of European Parliament. A former girl guide, she spoke about women and decision-making and how women have every right to be involved; that they need to be part of the process as the decisions made will affect their future. She challenged those present to never give up on others and to think about what we can do to make a change, to make a difference to improve the lives of others.

The Hong Kong Girl Guides Association presented their bid to host the 35th World Conference in 2014. Delegates will vote on this bid tomorrow. The World Board conducted a question and answer session on the proposed Strategic Plan 2012-2014. It was great to hear from the Board Members first hand their responses to the queries that MOs had.

There was some ‘free time’ in the afternoon, where we all trundled off to different meetings. Helen attended the International Commissioners meeting, Tash represented Australia at a gathering of GAT (Global Action Theme) Champions, and Ally and Renée attended an information session on the brand new WAGGGS Global Advocacy Campaign, which was launched late this afternoon. The Global Advocacy Campaign is to End Violence Against Girls, whether it be trafficking, abuse, bullying, child marriage etc. Representatives from some of WAGGGS’ key partnerships, with UNWomen, Plan International, Save the Children and UPS Foundation were present as we were lead in a ‘firework’ to start the conversation. Will you join us in moving from a whisper to a shout??

In the evening we celebrated the Four World Centres at a Fiesta. Ally and Tash went skiing in Switzerland, you could receive a henna tattoo in India, have your photo taken with the royal couple Prince William and Katherine, whack a piñata in Mexico, and suggest a name for the proposed fifth World Centre in Africa. We also spent some time celebrating with New Zealand, Canada and the UK and their successful candidates to the World Board.

Friday promises to be a huge day, with voting occurring on the majority of proposed motions. Australia will be in the spotlight again, showcasing the amazing work that our members are doing to achieve the MDGs. It will end with the Closing Ceremony, when this amazing week will come to a close and we can all get some much deserved sleep.

Allison Hooper

Filed under: Guide stories No Comments

34th WAGGGS World Conference – Day 2 (Tuesday 12th July 2011)

The second day of the World Conference has been a very long one for the GGA Delegation. We began with Reflections and a short presentation from a WOSM World Committee member on how our two organisations are working together at the world level. This was followed by a brief summary of the proposed 2012-2014 Strategic Plan of WAGGGS, which touched on the 6 Global Outcomes:
• Increased and diversified membership;
• Improved image and visibility of Girl Guiding and Girl Scouting;
• Influenced issues that affect girls and young women;
• Strengthened the quality of the Girl Guiding and Girl Scouting experience;
• Built leadership capacity at every level; and
• Increased funding.

We also had short presentations on further proposed motions that cover the development of a fifth World Centre in Africa, Quota (an amount that MO’s pay to WAGGGS), and Fund Development. There is much debate on some of these topics, leading to some very interesting conversations whilst we wait in line for meals!

After morning tea everyone broke up into Regional Gatherings to further discuss the Strategic Plan – what our MO’s have achieved in the last triennium (3 year period), and how our MO Strategic Plans link to the new WAGGGS Strategic Plan to achieve the vision and mission for the next triennium.

The entire afternoon was spent in Regional Gatherings to discuss regional business. For Australia and the Asia Pacific Region, this included:
• A roll call of members present;
• An introduction of the World Board nominees from the Asia Pacific Region;
• Further discussion on proposed motions from a regional perspective;
• Introduction to the ‘APOP’ (Asia Pacific Operational Plan);
• An ‘up close and personal’ panel discussion with 4 AP Region leaders, including our own Helen Geard who talked about leading an intergenerational organisation; and
• An update on the 2013 AP Regional Conference, which will be held in Tokyo, Japan.

The AP Region Gathering closed with a very special welcome ceremony for the Girl Guides Association of Cambodia, which was voted into full membership on Monday. Every MO from the AP Region had brought their national scarf; these were tied together, and held up by all the young women present in the room. We then sang the World Song in our respective languages, welcoming Cambodia to the largest worldwide organisation for girls and young women. It was a very special celebration for everyone in the room.

The World Board nominees were available after dinner for delegates to meet and greet, and to ask questions of them. The GGA delegation very thoroughly discussed a number of issues with all nominees so that we can have a good indication of what they can bring to the World Board, and who to vote for when the elections take place on Thursday.

The official proceedings ended with a traditional Ceilidh – a celebration of Scottish culture, with live music, dancing and singing – an opportunity for us all to feel some more deep Scottish love! A word of warning – the dancing involves far more energy than meets the eye!

The Aussies have ended the day with a team meeting to compare notes on today’s sessions, and to finalise our goodies for the International Market tomorrow night. We are anticipating that all the badges, Australian souvenirs and other goodies will be quite popular and sell out quickly, so that we can go shopping too!!

Don’t forget to check out our photos from Conference on the GGA Facebook page, and also the other Conference material available from the WAGGGS website.


Update from Australian Guide Cale at Our Chalet

Hello! This is Cale, an Australian Girl Guide spending an incredible year of overseas travel and adventure!! It began with my four months as a volunteer at Our Cabaña in Mexico and now I am volunteering for 3 months in Our Chalet, Switzerland! It has been quite a sea-change!! Haha!

I have been here with 11 other volunteers or “vollies” as we are known since May 15 and will leave at the start of September.  But I don’t want to think about that!! I like it here a lot! I am in a beautiful country where I have the opportunity to do a lot of hiking and to see a lot of amazing views of the Alps.

I am learning a lot and working as hard as I can each day. My work here is very diverse and while I love to meet and work with participants I also enjoy to work behind the scenes. I am proud to be a super cleaner; a pro bathroom scrubber, vacuumer and mopper! This week I am helping to cook meals for 70 people, as well as tackling the big clean up afterwards!

When working with event participants I get to lead day hikes around the area as well as overnight sunrise hikes up the steep mountain Bonderspitz! I have the opportunity to run activities about WAGGGS, Switzerland, the WAGGGS centenary, the United Nations Millennium Development Goals and advocacy. In addition, I have the chance to challenge myself with adventure activities including rock-climbing, abseiling, zip-lining and the pendulum bridge jump and to explore many Swiss cities.

 I am laughing almost constantly and making many friends that span all across the world!  Currently, the Our Chalet volunteers are from USA, Canada, UK, Dominican Republic, Denmark and AUSTRALIA!! And it is a much longer list of the different nationalities of friends that I have met. I have entered the spider web of the World Centres where someone always knows another someone who knows another someone that you also know! I love this feeling that I am connected by the movement of Girl Guiding and Scouting across the world. It is better than I could have imagined!

This whole adventure stemmed from my uncertainty of what I wanted to study after graduating high school. I took a chance and applied to volunteer at the World Centres during 2011. Information and application forms can be found at the world centre websites,  each can be reached via the ‘Our World’ section on www.wagggg.org and there are many staff and volunteers at each centre who  are keen and willing to answer any of your questions, including me! If YOU, your sister, daughter or friend is interested in volunteering I absolutely and completely recommend and encourage it. This has been the most fun, exhausting, emotional and inspiring journey for me.

I am so happy and so thankful to Guiding that has given me the most precious and unforgettable experiences of my life. Thank you all for supporting international Guiding.

If you want to say hello or have any questions about my time in Our Chalet or Our Cabaña please do not hesitate to contact me via:  international@girlguides.org.au and beware I can talk under wet cement once you get me going!

Filed under: Guide stories No Comments

WAGGGS World Conference

We look forward to hearing all about the WAGGGs world conference in the coming days from our Australian delegates. Stay tuned to this blog for live updates from the UK.

Filed under: Guide stories No Comments

Michelle Price: Our Cabana

 Hola from Our Cabana in Mexico!

While my Spanish speaking has improved slightly, my writing has not- so that’s about as much Spanish as you will get I’m sorry!

After a very long flight from Brisbane to Los Angeles and an-almost-as-long wait in the LA airport, I finally made it to Mexico. The first impressions were very overwhelming. I was told that I was only to hire from an authorised taxi service, however I wasn’t told that the different taxi companies would be standing in front of me as soon as I came through the customs area all screaming different price offers. Not sure how they were able to do that when none of them knew where I was going at that stage but still.... I choose a taxi company at random and after what seemed like hours (I will never complain about Brisbane traffic ever again!) I arrived at Ticalli, the Guide hostel in Mexico City. 

At Ticalli I met a few other participants who had arrived in Mexico early. We spent the Saturday morning walking around Mexico City and we visited the National History Museum, located in an old castle (I can’t for the life of me spell the name, but I learnt that it means “Grasshopper”) followed by lunch in a local restaurant. I find it amazing just how cheap things are over here when I converted them into Australia dollars! We were all quite surprised at the cost of food, until we received the bill and found out how much tax was added! We were picked up by bus from Ticalli and arrived at Our Cabana quite late- just in time for dinner a couple of games before heading to sleep for the start of what will be a very big week.

Conference Day 1- The theme for the Conference has been “Grow!”, based on the WAGGGS catchphrase of “plant (2010), grow (2011), share (2012). With this in mind, each of the days has been targeted around a growing theme. For day one, it was a matter of “grow”. The day for those at Our Cabana started with the Opening Ceremony (Mexico being the latest of the time zones, we were quite lucky!), which was an amazing sight and sound of hearing all of the participants sing the World Song and their Promise in their own language. The activities of the day focused on our own development as well as the forming of the patrols. My patrol- the Silver Scorpions (“Sting with a Smile”) consisted of 9 of us from around the globe. Our first challenge was to communicate, as there were a couple in our group that only spoke Spanish. However over the last couple of days our Patrol has, for the most of it, worked incredibly well and we’ve been able to swap a lot of our cultures, opinions and Member Organisation’s situations. We were challenged to find out about what makes us passionate or sets us off, which transported me back to the Taking the Lead Conference, however to go on from this, we also had to identify our goals and tasks for the upcoming week (including the souvenir and swimming side of it). We covered the history of Guiding and the changes over the last 100 years- in essence, while the look and methods of the package may have changed, the heart of it is still very much present and has been consistent over the past century. The biggest challenge of the day, however, came in the form of the evening’s activity--- SALSA!!!

Conference Day 2- Today’s theme was about “Grow Self” and looked at the leadership in WAGGGS and within the Community and the impact that advocacy has on it. For the second time, I was transported back to Taking the Lead and I thank Linden whole heartedly for going through the definition of “advocacy” as a still-frame theatre project. It made the theatre project today, where we COULD actually move, much, MUCH easier!! We spent a significant amount of time within our World Regions looking at what has been happening MDG-wise in our Member Organisations- I felt extremely proud at everything that Girl Guides Australia has been involved in. Our final presentation to the rest of the group was a real display of the Australian projects, including our partnerships, opportunities and training for the young women and our focus on environmental projects. I was able to share a lot of our experiences and also gain some insight from the other countries for project in the future. We spent a great deal of time discussing advocacy techniques and I was able to share all of the work that went into the “Save Kindilan” project, as well as assist others in getting the message across, approaching the unapproachable and being heard.

The evening finished with the International Evening- each of the Regions put together what was meant to be a taste of the Region’s culture. The Asia Pacific Region, being quite diverse, decided that we would share some Regional dancing. The Cook Islands and Fiji started with their beautiful, flowery movements, followed by the Malaysian and Singaporian mix of modern steps. As for me... well I taught everyone what the boys of Brisbane Gang Show have taught me... the Lawn Mower, the Sprinkler and finally the Shopping Trolley moves. I received a lot of good feedback about the Australian way of “dancing”. We were also able to taste other culture’s food and see their distinctive national costumes- the girls from the UK and I have decided that we would like our National Costume to be a pretty dress (the likes of Japan, Hong Kong, Bolivia and Netherlands come to mind), however it needs to be MUCH easier to get into! Once again, not having a National “costume”, I was encouraged to be the Aussie surfer. I also had my vegemite, which I managed to convince several people to try, however most of them, thinking that it was chocolate, were not impressed with the taste!

That’s all for now

Filed under: Guide stories 1 Comment

Stories from Our Cabana

Hola! My name is Cale. I am an Australian from the Blue Mountains currently volunteering at Our Cabaña, the WAGGGS World Centre in Cuernavaca, Mexico. Would I recommend this experience to other Australia Guides?....without doubt! I have been here for one month and it is definitely an opportunity and experience that I would not have wanted to miss.

After finishing high school I was not sure what I wanted to do with my life and whether straight to university was the path for me. Instead, I have taken a year off to come to the Cabaña for 4 months and have found that it is both a very enjoyable way to spend my time and a valuable use of my efforts for WAGGGS and the local Mexican community as well as a huge learning curve and amazing opportunity to make friends from all over the world. I can not possibly list to you all of the benefits of this trip. The international world of Girl Guiding and Scouting is certainly something that I want to continue to be involved with throughout my life.

If you would like to know more about my experience at Our Cabaña and in Mexico please find me on Facebook or email me at calemj@bigpond.net.au. Unfortunately, I am not tech savvy enough to start an internet blog but I’m regularly letting my friends and family know what I’m up to via email and I’d love to share those experiences with you too if you’re interested.

Filed under: Guide stories No Comments

Report from Young Women’s World Forum

By Amy Spark

The Young Women's World Forum (YWWF) was brilliant, particularly the sharing with everyone present about our lives; how Guides works in every country; sharing our problems with Guides and problems Guides are facing and solutions to these problems, which turned out to be pretty similar the world over; sharing our ideas for the world and how we think we can make the world a better place. There was a lot of hard work and lot of fun night time activities including joining in with the finale of Girl Guiding UK's centenary, Vision and a ceilidh.

A particular highlight for me was the keynote speech by Leymah Gbowee who is the leader of a group of women in Liberia known as the Women of Liberia Mass Action for Peace.  This group brought together Muslim and Christian women and ended the civil war in their country in 2003.   From her speech we coined the quote for the forum 'little steps, huge impact, lifetime legacy'. Other points of interest were: talking to the WAGGGS advocacy reps, especially about their HIV program; and the final day when there was debate and ideas were discussed on the floor with everyone, to hear about the declaration and what we wanted included. And I got to stand and make myself heard and be listened to. We concluded by presenting the final Young Women's World Forum 2010 declaration to WAGGGS knowing it is a good document and represented the view of the majority of the delegates. You can view this declaration at: http://www.wagggsworld.org/en/resources/document/view/21292

Getting involved in any of the Young Women's World Forums to come would be very worthwhile. They will be amazing for the opportunities to meet people from all over the world and to discuss that world and make an impact on it and WAGGGS’ policies.

(Three young women are representing Girl Guides Australia at YWWF at Pax Lodge, Our Cabana and Our Chalet during March 2011 and you will be able to read their stories on their return.  Look out for the 2012 YWWF which will be hosted by Girl Scouts of the USA in 2012. The focus for all three events will be the WAGGGS’ Global Action Theme, girls worldwide say “together we can change our world” which addresses the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).)

Filed under: Guide stories 1 Comment

Hello world!

This is the  place where you can put your stories about anything Guiding. Opinions too. Testimonials, anything really. Good long stories. Try the forum is for a lively constructive debate or perhaps an answer to a  question.

Filed under: Guide stories 8 Comments