Eleanor Wilson: What World Thinking Day means to me

To celebrate our connection to Girl Guides and Girl Scouts around the world we spoke to Senior Section member and Rainbow Leader Eleanor about what World Thinking Day means to her.

Why is World Thinking Day important to you?

It’s so easy to get stuck in our own little worlds and forget how much we have in common with girls around the globe. Even though our lives are different many of the issues that affect girls and young women around the world are the same.

World Thinking Day is a chance to remember that we’re part of something bigger and, with ten million guiding members around the world, we really can make our voices heard and be a force for good.

How has being a member of Girlguiding helped you to connect with girls around the world?

As a member of the Senior Section I had the chance to visit Mexico on a County trip. It was a journey of over 5,000 miles – the furthest I’d ever travelled and a brilliant opportunity to discover somewhere totally new.

Where did you stay?

We stayed at Our Cabana, the World Association of Girl Guide and Girl Scouts Centre, near the city of Cuernavaca.

Were you nervous?

When we first arrived we were all split up into different dorms so that we couldn’t just stick with familiar faces from home. It’s nerve-wracking to live with strangers but we soon discovered we all had one big thing in common – we’re all part of guiding. It was great to be able to share stories and ideas – we even picked up some tips for our next camp.

What did you do?

We volunteered with local children at a community centre, toured archaeological sites, learnt about Mexican folk-art and explored the city. The Mexican Guides helped to translate as we went along and even showed me how to barter in the market.

And did you stay in touch when you got home?

We did more than stay in touch. By the time we left we had made such good friends and we really wanted to repay the hospitality and show the Mexican Guides our home country. However we knew the cost of travelling to and staying in Scotland meant it would be difficult –even impossible – for them to visit us.

But the idea didn’t go away and we started thinking about how we could help. The whole of Ross-shire County got behind the challenge and started fundraising to help with Mexican Guides make the journey. It took over a year but after bag-packs, coffee mornings, and more we raised enough to make it happen.

What did the Mexican Girl Guides get up to on their visit?  

We planned an action-packed visit – with stops at London, Edinburgh, and Loch Ness. We had the chance to introduce them to Scottish favourites like haggis and Irn Bru and exchange our ceilidh steps for Mexican folk-dances.

What have you gained from your experience visiting Mexico and helping the Mexican Girl Guides to visit Scotland?

It’s given me the confidence to know what wherever I go – however far from home – I can make friends because I already have a real connection with girls and young women all over the world. Being part of guiding really does mean that you’re part of a global family.