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Thinking Day in Rocklin opens scouts’ eyes to different cultures

By: Amanda Calzada, Placer Herald correspondent
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Two hundred Girl Scouts recently traveled the globe in Rocklin to get a sense of 45 countries.

“It opens the eyes of girls and lets them know they have sisters in almost all countries around the world,” said Renee Meyer, who administered Rocklin’s recent Thinking Day event.

World Thinking Day is a chance for girls to gain awareness of their sister scouts around the world. Girl Scouts affiliates with the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts, commonly known as WAGGGS, which is divided into five regions globally: Europe, Arab, Africa, Asia and Western Hemisphere regions.

Meyer said Rocklin wanted to choose one region to study, but because Arab and African regions were small, they were combined for the event to supply girls with a combined choice of 45 countries. The goal was for the girls to select a country that was not completely familiar to them.

In the past, girls could select one of any of the 145 WAGGS countries and troops usually repeated countries over the years.

“Thinking Day was important because it taught girls about other cultures around the world,” said Karina Salerno, a 9-year old junior Girl Scout of troop 465 whose troop represented Qatar.

Eight-year-old Taylor Bedrin from Brownie Troop 793 said she learned about the countries in the African region that “hardly anyone thinks about.”

The event, hosted in the Granite Oaks Middle School gym, showcased 200 Placer Gold Service Unit Girl Scout attendants from kindergarten to 10th grade, as well as 20 volunteers from grades six through nine and 40 adults who attended as leaders and parent volunteers.

Planning for the event dated back to October of last year so that troops had time to study their country of choice as well as prepare a display board with information and stamps or stickers for “passports.” Some troops even wore costumes and brought food of their respective countries, as well as handed out souvenirs.

“Everything is girl-ran. The boards are made and the information is learned by the girls. When the girls are given a chance to teach their country, it gives a sense of empowerment,” said Meyer, who said the event had “very minimal” adult roles.

Participants did a scavenger hunt for information about each country. Twenty-three troops represented countries including Botswana, Chad, South Africa, Qatar, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates.

Learning about the lesser-known countries benefited the girls in addition to the learning of their diversity, which encourages respecting of differences, Meyer said.

“Some girls also recognized turmoil of other less-fortunate countries around the world,” she added.

More than half of the girls who participated were in grades kindergarten through third.

Although Girl Scouts deem Feb. 22 World Thinking Day, Rocklin chose to host the event earlier to avoid conflicts with cookie sales. Meyer said the Rocklin Unified School District was very “gracious’ with the use of the facility.

Cadette and Senior Troop 1921 collected money for the Juliet Low Friendship Fund, which supports girls' international travel and participation in training and other international events.