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Monday, March 4, 2013

Updates from GSNorCal's Teen Delegation to the United Nations' Commission on the Status of Women

UN in session, flags raised
Our GSNorCal girls who are part of the Girl Scout delegation to the United Nation's Commission on the Status of Women had a busy weekend in New York preparing for their once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to present their voices on the global stage to work toward the "elimination and prevention of all forms of violence against girls and women." 

Preparing for upcoming sessions
"Our girls have no fear of standing up for what they think is right," said Marla Howard, a GSNorCal program director who is one of the adult chaperones on the trip. "They are stepping forward, eager and willing to a world that intimidates many adults to help make people understand why we need to stop violence against women and girls."

With Michael Kaufman of White Ribbon Campaign
On Saturday, the girls facilitated a discussion within their delegation workgroup on whether on not their blog site should be public. It was a serious discussion on what they want out there and how it could impact people as they talk about how they feel about discussions in sessions at the Commission on the Status of Women. They spoke up and said they want to be heard and want people to understand what is going on in the world rather than hide it out of fear that someone will disagree.

The girls attended an all-day orientation with teens from around the world, which included a session with United Nation's consultant Michael Kaufman, co-founder of the White Ribbon Campaign, the largest effort in the world of men working to end violence against women.

Our Girl Scouts are taking the lead in getting themselves around New York City -- America hailed her very first cab on Sunday. They've figured out how to use the subway, onto the correct trains, finding their way through neighborhoods to their meeting places.

America and Larissa
Of course, no trip to New York would be complete without a trip to the Statue of Liberty, and the girls also visited Ground Zero. Here's the reaction from Larissa, one of our Girl Scouts from our Got Choices program, a program for teen and tween girls who are involved, or at risk for becoming involved, in the juvenile justice system:

"Today we visited the Statue of Liberty -- when coming to New York, this was one of the many things I wanted to visit. Visiting the Stature of Liberty was a great experience for me. I really liked it. I learned that the Statue of Liberty was a gift from France. I also learned that Ellis island was for immigration when they were coming into the United States. They checked for diseases, head lice, and other things to allow them into the US. We also visited the World Trade Center Memorial where the Twin Towers were. While visiting, I learned more information about the attack and what people's thoughts were about. We met a guy who was a street historian who told us about 9/11. I learned that four planes attacked and there were about twelve restaurants inside of the towers. He also told us about how they were rebuilding it so at night two blue lights will glow to represent the memorial. He recommended the church that was right by the Towers that wasn't affected by the attack. We took the subway to these locations, and it was an interesting mode of transportation. It was dark and really packed with people, yet fun and overall a great experience to bring back home."

Chaperones Marla & Whitney
Whitney Evans, our Got Choices program director who is also chaperoning the girls, is beside herself with pride as she observes her girls - who have already overcome so many obstacles at a young age - succeeding on a world stage. 

"Watching Larissa and America participate with the other girls from across the country at GSUSA is a blast," Whitney said. "They are working hard to step out of their comfort zones and have their voices heard. I am so glad we were able to show them the Statue of Liberty and teach them a little about the history of this country. These two kids have worked so hard to be where they are in their lives, and I could not be more proud. I tease them that I taught them everything they know, but really they have taught me so much about resilience and perseverance."

Last night, as they made their way home, it began to snow -- another treat for these California girls.

The full Girl Scout delegation
"My New York dream came true today -- it snowed!" said Varsha, who is a girl representative on the GSNorCal Board of Directors. "That was the perfect end to a perfect day!"

On Monday, Varsha and Jessica are in monitoring the Commission on the Status of Women's general discussion, while America, Larissa, and Allison are helping to complete the teen statement at the girls caucus.

Stay tuned to the GSNorCal blog this week to hear more about our girls, including updates on their upcoming presentations!

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