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Girl Scouts travel the world

POSTED: February 28, 2008 5:01 a.m.
TOM REED/The Times

Victoria Owensby, left, stamps a "passport" while Zandra Churchill looks on. The passports were stamped as visitors to the Girl Scouts' World Thinking Day event visited booths representing various countries. Zandra is dressed in a native dress from Denmark, the country represented by the booth. Both girls are members of Troop 1510 in Towns County.

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The Girl Scouts of Northeast Georgia had a global traveling experience Saturday without even leaving the area.

On Saturday, the Georgia Mountains Center was decked out in a travel theme setting for World Thinking Day, which gives Girl Scouts the opportunity to learn about international cultures.

Mary Hurst, membership marketing director, said Thinking Day "makes the world seem a lot smaller" to the girls.

Out of the 25 counties under the jurisdiction of the Girl Scouts of Northeast Georgia, 17 were picked to represent a country of their choosing. Girl Scout participants were allowed to change booths during the event in order to learn more about each country and not just the one they had picked to study.

Countries were divided into three categories — European, North and South American, and African and Asian — and each was represented at a booth with information about its culture. For example, the China booth had displays of traditional Chinese decorations, samples of Jasmine tea, a game of Chinese hopscotch and a display of Chinese customs.

Surrounding the booths were areas called "in-flight entertainment." The entertainment was provided by presenters including Chaudron Gille, director of the Center for Teaching, Learning and Leadership at Gainesville State College, and University of Georgia professors Arvin Scott and Sarah W. Workman. The presenters donated their time to provide slide shows and artifacts from many countries, including Fiji and Thailand.

Scott, who teaches African, Caribbean and Brazilian hand drumming, performed throughout the day. He also invited 40 Girl Scouts to play an instrument on stage with him. The girls played with drums, shakers and bells while Scott led them with a steady beat and a song.

A "duty-free shop" was set up with souvenirs for sale and a "customs" area was set up at the exit. At the customs area, each visitor’s passport was evaluated and each Girl Scout received a World Thinking Day badge.

Marsha Hopkins, a Gainesville Rotary Club member, set up a booth on water conservation. The booth displayed a 50-gallon rain barrel and Hopkins gave tips on how to save water.

Zandra Churchill and Victoria Owenby, both 8, represented Denmark. They sang a Danish song and handed out cards with common English phrases translated into Danish. Churchill wore a traditional Danish dress which she said is worn on special occasions.

Haley White, 8, greeted visitors below a model of the Eiffel Tower by giving samples of French bread and saying, "Bonjour!" White said her favorite booth to visit at the event was Belgium, which had chocolate samples.

Patti Lester, membership marketing director of the Girl Scouts of Northeast Georgia, said it was "neat to see kids learning something new. There is excitement on their faces."

Lester has been on the council for 18 years and has been a Girl Scout for 27 years.

Terri Bear, Girl Scout membership specialist, has been a Girl Scout for more than 50 years and said she likes Thinking Day because it is fun for her.

"It’s just fun, it’s Girl Scouts in action," she said.

She also took to heart the skills that young girls get from the Girl Scouts. "The goal of Thinking Day is for our girls to be thinking about Girl Scouting and Girl Guides worldwide. It’s all about sisterhood," Bear said.


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