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I am sitting on the cold hard linoleum floor in the community center for St. Pius X in Hikes Point. My daughter sits on my knee so she can see over the heads of the Girl Scouts sitting in front of her. We are waiting for the parade of countries to start at the World Thinking Day celebration for our unit, which includes many other troops.
The girls line up, and then they start marching around the perimeter of the room, circling those of us sitting in the middle. They are dressed in costumes representing their chosen countries or their uniforms. There are Daisies (the very youngest Girl Scouts), Brownies and on up through the levels to teenagers attending the program. They move around the room, displaying flags and props that they made to celebrate this official Girl Scout holiday.
The energy in the room fills me with joy. There is a sense of community and tradition that makes me glad we are a part of it. I am so excited to share Girl Scouting with my daughter, and for her to finally attend an event with other troops. She can see what Scouting could possibly look like for her over the years.
Our area’s World Thinking Day program consists of the troops making flags, costumes and skits to introduce girls to different countries. They also make handmade items, such as pins, and treats to sell after the parade and skits are over. The girls presenting their skits, costumes, and handmade items to us tonight worked hard to put on the program – not for money or personal gain. They put forth their time and effort to make a difference for something outside of them.
Any money the troops make at this event from selling treats or crafts that represent their countries is donated the Juliette Low World Friendship Fund. This fund supports international travel and connection among Girl Scouts worldwide.
One group of Brownies (2nd and 3rd grade girls) is representing Korea. Several of the girls come out in costumes appearing to be traditional Korean dresses. They bow to the audience, and then walk away. A group of girls dressed in martial arts uniforms takes their place. Another girl, wearing sunglasses and a suit jacket walks to the front. Then the opening notes of “Gangnam Style” are heard.
“Mommy, take a video,” my daughter begs, as she stares transfixed at the girls who are dancing, and staying in character, in front of her.
The whole room starts to clap along with the music. A catchy tune often has an audience clapping along, but this seems different somehow. The clapping seems less about enjoying the music and more about supporting the performers and cheering them on.
My eyes grow misty. I love being a part of an organization that builds girls up, and allows them to grow in a supportive environment. I love that the organization specifically challenges the cultural assumption that women are naturally antagonistic toward one another, and shows girls that there is another way, a better way, to be.
I look forward to watching my daughter grow into a young woman, and I hope Girl Scouts continues to be a part of her life.