My first visit to a World Centre was in 1999. I was with my guide group and loved every minute. It made a lasting impression on me. It was then I first became aware of the opportunity of working at a World Centre. The idea was firmly planted in my head.
Around the time that I was approaching my final year of school, the IGG monthly Trefoil magazine published an article written by an Irish guider who had just returned from a stint working in the Cabaña.
After one particular international trip I became good friends with a guider from Mexico and we promised to travel and see each other in the future. I found out later that she lived in Cuernavaca, the city where Our Cabaña resides. Since meeting in 2002 we kept in contact and volunteering at Our Cabaña became a dream of mine.
After discussing with family, looking at college flexibility and researching the WAGGGS links, I decided to take a year out before heading to university. I saw my year out as an opportunity to mature and broaden my horizons before entering an intense 4 year degree course.
I was over the moon when the Cabaña’s Deputy World Centre Manager informed me I would be working at the Cabaña from 6 October to 16 November 2005. I booked my flights and extended my return date for an extra month so I could travel with Barbara, my Mexican friend.
My time working at Our Cabaña was magical and an eye opener to international guiding. I was very sad to leave the centre and Mexico, whose culture I had grown to love.
After such a wonderful experience at Our Cabaña I thought of applying to another world centre, Our Chalet preferably because of great memories visiting as a guide. On the other hand I felt almost selfish asking Guiding to give again after already feeling indebted.
That’s why I was surprised and excited to receive an email from Our Chalet in February 2006 informing me of 3 positions open to apply for at the centre: Catering Manager, Programme Coordinator and House Assistant. I took the email as a positive sign and immediately applied for a position of house assistant since it was closest to my previous experience.
A week or so later I starred at my computer screen in disbelief when I read I was not only offered a place in the Our Chalet staff but as programme coordinator from 1 May until 5 September. I read and re-read the job description. It sounded like a huge step up from what was previously asked of me in the Cabaña and found the prospect a little daunting at first. I had just been offered an amazing opportunity and took solace in the knowledge that expectations were high in every World Centre and decisions over staff were not taken lightly. This and the fact that whoever put forward my name had the belief I would be capable of the task. This came as great encouragement to me and I accepted the offer with great anticipation.
My time here at Our Chalet is nearly up and I feel I have come such a long way from when I first arrived. I have gained such confidence in my abilities. I thank Our Chalet for pushing me to do things I never thought possible.
Never have I felt so at home even among strangers. Those near to me not involved in guiding found it hard to understand my total self-assurance of leaving for 4 months to work in Switzerland where I didn’t know a soul. But that is Guiding I tell them.
That confidence to know that even though the people you meet within our movement may not turn out to be lifelong friends, we will respect and be kind towards each other. I can give no other definition to Girl Guiding and Scouting and why would I?
To define is to give a clear meaning and thus restricting our boundaries. Guiding has no boundaries to what you can do. It is something you put into practice everyday of our normal lives. Are lives are constantly moving forwards and guiding can too by showing us the skills we need to move forwards in our lives whether it be in the workplace, in our education or our minds.
Each of our World Centres are completely different and each have the potential to offer so much to the modern girl scout and guide. It is their differences that give our association a unique chance to come together and offer something no educational system, workplace or organization could put forward.
Alex Fleming (Ireland)
Programme Coordinator – Summer 2006