I feel good.
Getting my thoughts out of my head and onto the ‘page’ helps so much. And so does getting out of my room. On Sunday afternoon I boarded a bus with members of the WAGGGS World Board, staff, volunteers and ex-staff from Pax Lodge bound for Oxfordshire. On the way out of London I gazed out the window and realised just how lucky I am to live in Hampstead. If I had to find my own flat anywhere in London, there is no doubt I’d be living somewhere dreary and mouldy and miserable and cold. Instead, I live in a nice warm bui
lding in a beautiful (although a little posh) part of London with a built-in ‘family.’ Rent-free.
I had the intention of watching the countryside roll by, but I fell asleep. Can’t fall asleep when I want to or when I’m supposed to, but as soon as I want to stay awake? No problem. I woke up again near Woodstock and it wasn’t too long after that that we pulled up to the Crowne Plaza at Heythrop Park, where GirlGuiding UK was hosting the first of three Young Women’s World Forums (YWWF). The place was massive, and the interior was very ‘our clients are so rich it doesn’t matter that our furnishings are ugly and uncomfortable.’ The conference room was flash, though, and I felt very important sitting at a place with a card that said “Reserved: WAGGGS staff” and a mic and headphones that I could tune so that I could hear what the people on stage were saying in English, French or Spanish. Add to that the fact that the participants in the YWWF were sitting behind signs that had their country names on them, and I felt very much like I was in some kind of UN meeting.
The energy and enthusiasm of the girls (well, women. 18-25 y.o) was infectious and you could tell they had had a great week meeting other young women from around the wold, forging friendships, discovering differences and I was inspired. They really cared about the issues they were discussing. In case you didn’t click on the links above, they worked towards making declarations on behalf of young women world wide, on how they believe WAGGGS, national governments and the United Nations should approach three of the UN’s Millenium Development Goals (MDGs):
- MDG1 “Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger”
- MDG3 “Promote gender equality and empower women”
- MDG7 “Ensure environmental sustainability”.
They originally created over 100 declarations. After much discussion and debating, they narrowed them down to 30. By Saturday afternoon, they had 12. These were presented, and the World Board will take those declarations and work with them in order to present them to the United Nations. They will also be passed on to the participants of next year’s YWWF. I felt privileged to be standing among people who made such important decisions for us and our planet.
Next year’s forum will be held simultaneously in the four World Centres: Pax Lodge in London, UK, Our Chalet in Adelboden, Switzerland, Our Cabaña in Cuernavaca, Mexico and Sangam in Pune, India. It will be for 20-30 year old women. In 2012, Girl Scouts USA’s centenary year, the 3rd YWWF will be held in the United States of America with 14-18 year old girls.
After the presentation and having the opportunity to chat with the women from the forum, I was given a lift to the centre of Oxford (we took the long way – and by that I mean we got a little lost- it was entertaining), where I found a pub to have a steak and ale pie in and then asked about for a hostel. The guys in the pubs were no use, but a guy working in a convenience store on New Inn Hall Street gave me perfect directions to the YHA by the train station. It was cold and dark out and I was happy to curl up in bed and watch QI on the telly.
Sunday morning I rose, showered, and praised myself for buying that travel towel on sale for half price a few weeks ago. I did a 2 hour walking tour, fantasized about meeting famous authors (past, present and future), wandered around, perused the bookshops, bought too many books and a map of the UK and Ireland for my wall, ate lunch (I love falafels), wandered some more, bought some cosy winter PJs from the very British store Marks & Spencers, fantasized about studying at an Oxford college, took photos in the brilliant autumn light and got on the train to Paddington Station. I forgot the marmalade sandwiches though.
I intend to get those photos up soon, before I forget the stories that go with them.
Today was a Staff Sharing Day at work. The whole team got together and talked about what we’ve been doing and what we’ll be doing and got to know each other better and had a generally enjoyable day.
We started with a little field trip to Air Studios next door. It looks like a big old red brick church, but inside it hides a magical realm of music and sound engineering equipment. AIR is the Association of Independent Recorders, and along with Abbey Road is one of the two big recording studios in London. We had a tour of the place, learned about what they do there, what kind of famous people have recorded there (Yusuf Islam!), which movie soundtracks were done there, who fell asleep on the couches we were sitting on, and so on. When I went to the tube station to pick up some tickets later in the day, the BBC Orchestra truck was there unloading.
To finish the day, we had a movie night in the Pax Lodge conference room. Maia presented us all with flowers to say thanks, and we ate lots of junk food including lots of chocolate gifted to us from the Saluja family – one of the members of the World Board brought her baby and mother to Pax Lodge (mother to look after baby while she was in meetings), and we all had so much fun playing with baby Zoraver. We’ll miss being his aunties, and may have to go to New York to see the whole family again. We watched the beginning of Lifting King Kong, the Korean film about weightlifting, to see me in the crowd when Korea scores the goal in the soccer (in 1984 – pretty nifty time travel on my part, if I do say so), then moved on to chick-flick Letters to Juliet, featuring a grown up Home and Away ‘star.’ Little Nick Smith should never have grown up at all, much less to have a British accent! I was surprised every time he opened his mouth. I retired after that and left everyone to watch The Breakfast Club, which I saw only a week ago.
I’m glad to be feeling like spending time with people again, instead of just wanting to be alone. I’m feeling very positive today. Maybe 7 out of 10.
Tomorrow I get to see the London Southwest Gang Show, which I’m very excited about!
- 10 Million Girls Empowered to Change Their Futures with a Five-Year, $2 Million Partnership Between The UPS Foundation and the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (eon.businesswire.com)