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

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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.

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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).)

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