Written by BUCN Miranda R Roudabush, United States Navy, Girl Scout 2000-2013
Each year, the Mount Vernon 3rd year Spanish students have the opportunity to participate in a trip through Interact Travel to enhance their Spanish speaking skills by traveling outside of the United States. I took this trip last year and learned a great deal. The school we visited is totally dependent upon donations – there is no public funding like we enjoy here. While I had not previously thought about how my school is funded, I now have a much better appreciation.
While interacting with the children during the trip, my classmates and I were the “big kids”, but these students have spoken Spanish all their lives. Most of us had only taken it in school a couple of years. In that regard, these students “became” the teachers. When we would say the wrong word or not be able to express what we wanted to do, the kids would just giggle and correct us, to help us. We could do the same for them when it came to English speaking skills.
When we shared school supplies and recess toys with these students, it was like Christmas to them. To see the children of a school excited to have the crayons, tape and pencils we donated because it has a direct impact on their educational opportunities, inspired me that we can all make a difference and not to take for granted what we have readily available.
Those observations were the start of my desire to increase educational opportunities between our schools. If we were able to exchange ideas and interact more frequently than once a year visits, it would open up opportunities cross-culturally in both schools. It is one thing for my U.S. classmates to share a school project within our class, but totally another to share it with a native speaking student to gain their insight. That would change the entire focus of the learning objective and provide valuable feedback.
Girl Scout Gold Award
My Gold Award Take Action project goal was to increase the technology in the Juan Pablo II School in Granada, Nicaragua to improve communication and education exchanges between that school and our local schools. My project resulted in the delivery of the very first computer to the Juan Pablo II School and included educational software for the students and programs useful for the teachers to exchange ideas.
Dealing with cross-cultural challenges including language barriers and utility differences was a new experience for me, but I was able to apply my Girl Scout obtained skills for leadership, networking and determination to overcome for a successful outcome. The long term benefits for students world-wide made it all worth it!
I encourage all Girl Scouts to look for opportunities to share what you have learned through Girl Scouts with your Sister Scouts, whether that is locally or internationally. By “Taking Action” for the needs you recognize, you will make a difference. Step outside of your comfort zone and try new things. You may surprise yourself at what you are able to accomplish when a Girl Scout takes a stand to make the world a better place.
As I now begin my Naval Career as a SeaBee, I look forward to using the skills I have gained from my Gold Award project for future international projects. I know that when a need is presented, I have the teamwork skills and knowledge gained from Girl Scouts to apply with my Navy training to find a way to make a positive impact in our world on a daily basis.