Mathilde Tranter a member of The Senior Section in the county tells us about her experience on her first Advocate panel weekend in London held at Girlguiding Headquarters.
“What a weekend! I woke up on Saturday morning feeling quite nervous. Considering that I can be fairly shy when in a group of new people, I was worried I wouldn’t be brave enough to join in with discussions – and this made Girlguiding HQ feel like a very daunting place.
However after a nice cup of tea and initial introductions I quickly realised that there were eight other girls feeling the way I did and 18 girls instantaneously bonded by a love of Guiding.
The first session began with a couple of ice breakers, especially designed to mix newer Advocates with the girls who had already been on the panel for a year. I got to find out why the other girls had applied and was pleasantly surprised by the similarities and variations in each story.
We then moved on to start the media training; this was definitely what I was most anxious about. I really didn’t need to be though, the other advocates had some good tips, and once I had learnt to remember to think of my personal love of Guiding, I felt like I could talk to anyone about Guiding!
Then it was straight into discussing what was next for the Girls Matter campaign. It felt great to be working as a group sharing and building on each other’s ideas and I can’t wait to start working on the campaign myself.
After a fun, and late, evening getting to know each other better, we all woke up feeling a bit sleepy and not really wanting to get out of bed. This was soon rectified though, with a trip to see the 100 Leading Ladies exhibition at Somerset House. I really recommend it if you’re in London and have a spare hour.
Feeling inspired we returned to HQ to meet a spokesperson from ActionAid. They told us about their work in international development for girls and young women. They were very interested to hear our views on how to tackle issues such as FGM (female genitalia mutilation). This was definitely the most compelling session for me, as we heard real stories from girls and women who had experienced not only FGM but the repercussions of being cut later in their lives.
The afternoon was spent looking at the Girls Attitude Survey 2014. We discussed the findings and our own views on them. This was really interesting as we found out about other people’s interests through the areas they chose to look at.
I feel very privileged to be a part of Advocates’ future, and I am incredibly excited to see what opportunities come my way. In today’s society it is unusual to find yourself in a place where it is normal not to follow popular belief because it is just that – and to me that was what made the weekend so fantastic!”