Where in the world will I go with Girl Guides? /

When I finally turned 18 and became a leader, I had a dream. My dream was to volunteer at 4 out of the 5 world centres, Mexico, Switzerland, Pax Lodge, and Sangam. This year I was very fortunate to be able to start this dream in Mexico, at the world center called Our Cabaña. When I first arrived I asked myself, what am I going to even do for 3 months? I was definitely asking the wrong question. I should have asked, what can’t I do in three months at Our Cabaña? During my stay at Our Cabaña I have done amazing things such as: visited the ecological park, went waterfall jumping, discovered local art museums, and been on a trajinera (a type of Mexican boat that’s painted). I also toured places like: Mexico City, Tépozlan, downtown Cuernavaca, the anthropology museum, and hiked the pyramid of the sun. Best of all was going skydiving on my first day off. I can definitely say that my dream to explore Mexico has been fulfilled while staying at Our Cabaña. My favourite part about my stay at Our Cabaña was the people I met from all over the world and learning about different cultures. I can now say that I have made over 200 or more friends during my stay. Time has flown by and I can’t believe it. I only have two more weeks left at this gorgeous world centre. If you are thinking about volunteering at Our Cabaña, then I would encourage you to do it! You will develop your leadership skills, meet so many new people from around the world, learn about different cultures, and tasting all the amazing food. As a Canadian Girl Guide I would like to thank WAGGGS as they financially supported this adventure by providing me with a travel grant to cover my travel costs.  I would also like to thank Our Cabaña as they provide free lodging and meals. They also showed me this beautiful World Centre and the surrounding area. Start your World Centre journey at Our Cabaña - you will not regret it! To apply click on the link below: https://www.wagggs.org/en/our-world/world-centres/our-cabana/volunteer-at-our-cabana/volunteers/ Yours in Guiding, Samantha Yarmiy Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada  

From Participant to Volunteer

Brianna Ernest / Canada Back in March of 2017 I was lucky enough to be able to come to Our Cabaña as a participant. My unit and I took part in Splash into Spring where we visited different towns and went shopping, went to a water park and got sunburnt, and completed a service project in the community. That week was amazing because I was able to bond with my unit more, and I was able to get to know the staff and volunteers. In fact, I got to know them so well that they encouraged me to apply for a volunteer position. The moment I got home I started filling out the application. Our Cabaña had been my 4th World Center and by far one of my favourites. I could see myself staying there and being one of those volunteers that I looked up to. Months later I received an email explaining that I did not get chosen for the spring term that I originally applied for, but that they would love to keep my application and put it forward for the summer term; I happily agreed. Fast forward a few more months when another email popped into my inbox, asking if I was available for an interview. I scheduled my interview and then waited another month for the decision. I was ecstatic when I got the acceptance email for the summer term. I started making plans right away and soon enough, I was back at Our Cabaña. If you were to tell me when I was a participant that I would be back here just over a year later, I would have laughed and never believed you. This opportunity has been amazing and so eye-opening. I have bonded with all the staff here and if you were to walk into our house you would honestly think we were a family. A family full of diversity. You can walk in and hear us arguing about the difference between Rockets and Smarties or having a lesson on different Scottish words. But you can also see us working as a solid team, working alongside our participants and allowing them to grow and have fun. Our Cabaña is truly the place where dreams come true, leaving as a participant and returning as a volunteer is proof of that.

Cookies and service / Galletas y servicio

IMG_4753 Jackie Ann Gadziala / USA Spanish below Excitement, homesickness, emails, uniforms, service, and Oreos have been my foundation for my first week of volunteering at the Our Cabaña. I came a week later than the other volunteers, so I was nervous to how I would catch up and if I already missed out on too many inside jokes. I was mistaken. I believe the staff and volunteers at Our Cabaña to be the nicest people in Mexico. I felt safe, welcome, and any awkward moment I experienced soon became moments of fun. Although it was difficult at times to throw myself from one country to another, the “courage, confidence, and character” instilled in me from Girl Scouting pushed me to be the volunteer Our Cabaña deserved — to continuously be outgoing and to try my best. Volunteering at Our Cabaña is emotionally and physically tiring, but 100% worth it. I really struggled the first few days, but soon became acclimated and noticed the beautiful details of Our Cabaña that give my time here depth. Everyone’s experience is different, so my advice to future volunteers is to commit to your time here, make goals about what you want to learn/do, and then go out there and make it happen. Within a week, I had traveled internationally by myself, met amazing new people, practiced my Spanish, tried new foods, started a take action project with one of the other volunteers, learned a lot about myself, and ultimately, had fun. I still have about seven weeks to go, so I know that I am in store for an unfathomable amount of memories that will change me for the better.  

Spanish Version

Emoción, nostalgia, correos, uniformes, servicio y Oreos, han sido la base de mi primera semana en Nuestra Cabaña. Llegué una semana más tarde que las demás voluntarias, así que estaba un poco nerviosa sobre cómo me pondría al día y me preguntaba si ya me había perdido demasiadas bromas locales. Pero estaba equivocada. Creo que el personal y las voluntarias de Nuestra Cabaña son las personas más agradables de México. Me sentí segura, bienvenida y cualquier momento incómodo que pude haber sentido, enseguida se convirtió en un momento de diversión. Aunque a veces era difícil proyectarme entre un país y el otro, el “coraje, confianza y carácter” que aprendí y desarrollé en el Guidismo, me empujó a ser la voluntaria que Nuestra Cabaña merece, a ser continuamente extrovertida y a dar siempre lo mejor de mí, cada día.

El voluntariado en Nuestra Cabaña es emocional y físicamente agotador, pero vale la pena al 100%. Me costó al principio, pero logré adaptarme rápidamente y noté que Nuestra Cabaña tiene muchos detalles especiales, que le dan sentido a mi tiempo de voluntariado aquí. La experiencia de cada persona es diferente, así que mi consejo para quienes quieren ser voluntarias en Nuestra Cabaña es que mantengan un compromiso real durante el tiempo que estén aquí, fíjense metas sobre lo que quieren aprender y hacer, después salgan y trabajen para hacerlas realidad. En una semana he viajado sola internacionalmente, he conocido gente increíble, practicado mi español, probado comida nueva, iniciado un proyecto de propugnación con una voluntaria de otro país, aprendido mucho sobre mí misma y por supuesto me he divertido… Todavía tengo 7 semanas más por delante, así que sé que tendré innumerables aventuras y recuerdos, que me ayudarán a crecer y cambiar positivamente.

It ends, but it´s not the end / Se acaba pero no es el final

IMG_0656 ESPAÑOL ABAJO Olivia Cheung, Hong Kong After staying for almost 5 months as a Winter/Spring volunteer in Our Cabaña, it is the time to end the journey here. Five months ago, we started our journey with one of the other volunteer’s family to celebrate Christmas together. In these 5 months, we definitely had loads of unforgettable crazy and silly moments with the volunteers, the staff and the participants. It was actually not easy for us to say goodbye to the participants every time an event finished. It was even harder to say goodbye to the fellow volunteers who had lived with you for 5 months. The moment to say goodbye finally came. It was sad but it is the start of another journey. It is difficult to describe how much I gained from this experience in only a few words. The time here is not only about having fun with your friends, but also gaining valuable skills that are useful for your entire life. Aside from a World Centre like Our Cabaña, it would be difficult to find a place with people in such a wide diversity. It would also be difficult to find a place with unlimited support from the organization that aims to help you to develop to your full potential. It would also be difficult to find a place that allows you to learn from mistakes and give you a safe environment to challenge your weaknesses again. In here, I worked with people from more than 7 countries every day. We exchanged thoughts and ideas from different backgrounds. In here, I can raise out my ideas without the fear of being rejected as we tried our best to get things done but not hide from difficulties. I am glad that I had spent 5 months in Our Cabaña and will properly consider coming back again in the near future to find more treasure here. To conclude my experience, we had a day trip to Xochicalco and Parque Nacional Grutas de Cacahuamilpa to mark the end of the season. Things always start and end with a reason, but the end of one journey always indicates the start of the next one.
  Después de vivir en Nuestra Cabaña durante casi 5 meses como voluntaria de la temporada invierno/primavera es el momento de terminar el viaje. Hace 5 meses, empezamos nuestro viaje con la familia de una de las otras voluntarias para celebrar la Navidad juntas. Durante estos 5 meses, definitivamente tuvimos muchos momentos locos e inolvidables con las voluntarias, el staff y los participantes. En realidad, no fue fácil despedirnos de los participantes cada vez que terminaba un evento. Fue aún más difícil despedirnos de las voluntarias con quienes vivimos durante 5 meses. El momento de despedirnos por fin llegó. Fue triste, pero sé que es el principio de otro viaje. Es difícil describir cuanto he ganado de esta experiencia con unas pocas palabras. El tiempo aquí no solo se trata de divertirse con los amigos, sino de ganar habilidades valiosas que sirven para toda la vida. Aparte de un Centro Mundial como Nuestra Cabaña, sería difícil encontrar un lugar con gente de tanta diversidad. También sería difícil encontrar un lugar con apoyo incondicional de la organización que apunta a ayudarte aprender a desarrollar tu máximo potencial. También seria difícil encontrar un lugar que te deja aprender de tus errores y que te da un ambiente seguro para retar tus debilidades. Aquí trabajaba con gente de más de 7 países diferentes todos los días. Intercambiamos pensamientos e ideas de contextos diferentes. Aquí pude alzar la voz para expresar mis ideas sin tener miedo de ser rechazada mientras hacíamos todo lo posible para hacer las cosas, son huir de las dificultades. Me alegro de haber pasado 5 meses en Nuestra Cabaña y probablemente consideraría regresar en el futuro cercano para encontrar más tesoros aquí. Para concluir mi experiencia tuvimos una excursión a Xochicalco y el Parque Nacional Grutas de Cacahuamilpa para marcar el final de la temporada. Las cosas siempre empiezan y terminan con una razón, pero el final de un viaje siempre indica el comienzo del próximo.

Our Cabaña, a place to always come back / Nuestra Cabaña, un lugar al cual siempre regresar

20171217_125626 1 Kerry Morgan, UK ESPAÑOL ABAJO I first came to Our Cabaña last year as a participant and I enjoyed my experience so much that I ended up coming back here to volunteer for 5 months! It has been even better than I expected. I am so lucky to be working with an amazing group of volunteers, we work so well as a team with everyone able to contribute their ideas and opinions freely without judgement. Throughout 5 months of living and working together we didn’t have a single argument! We were also fortunate because we got the chance to go on many different trips and experience a variety of beautiful places that Mexico has to offer. We hiked up a mountain to see monarch butterflies in Valle de Bravo, released baby turtles in Acapulco, explored the silver markets of Taxco and relaxed in the beautiful natural water park called Las Estacas. During my time here I had many new experiences and learned new skills, including learning how to take a taxi by myself! I also learned about WAGGGS, the World Centres and initiatives such Free Being Me, Stop the Violence and the Sustainable Development Goals. I definitely know a lot more about WAGGGS now and it has made me feel more connected to other Girl Guides and Girl Scouts around the world. I am also thankful for the opportunity to practice my Spanish, both inside Our Cabaña and when we went on any trips when I would help translate for the participants and other volunteers. I am so grateful for the time I have spent here and the chance I had to give amazing experiences to others, like I had when I was a participant. I would recommend volunteering at Our Cabaña to all members of WAGGGS and one day I hope to have the opportunity to return.
  Vine por primera vez a Nuestra Cabaña el año pasado como participante y disfruté tanto de mi experiencia que volví para ser voluntaria durante 5 meses. Ha sido aún mejor de lo que esperaba. Tengo mucha suerte de trabajar con un grupo de voluntarias asombrosas, trabajamos muy bien en equipo y todas hemos podido aportar nuestras ideas y opiniones sin juicio. ¡Durante 5 meses de vivir y trabajar juntas no tuvimos ni una discusión! También somos afortunadas de haber tenido la oportunidad de salir en muchas excursiones y ver una variedad de lugares hermosos que ofrece México. Caminamos en una montaña para ver las mariposas monarca en Valle de Bravo, liberamos las tortugas recién nacidas en Acapulco, exploramos los mercados de plata en Taxco y pudimos relajarnos en un parque acuático natural hermoso llamado Las Estacas. Durante mi tiempo aquí acumulé muchas experiencias nuevas y aprendí habilidades nuevas, ¡incluso aprendí a tomar un taxi sola! También aprendí sobre la AMGS, los Centros Mundiales y las iniciativas como Libre de Ser Yo, Alto a la Violencia y los Objetivos de Desarrollo Sostenibles. Definitivamente sé mucho más sobre la AMGS ahora y me hace sentir más conectada a las Guías y Scouts alrededor del mundo. También estoy agradecida por la oportunidad de practicar mi español, dentro de Nuestra Cabaña y cuando fuimos de excursión pude ayudar a traducir para los participantes y las otras voluntarias. Estoy muy agradecida por el tiempo que he pasado aquí y la oportunidad que he tenido para dar experiencias asombrosas a otros, como cuando yo era participante. Recomiendo que todos los miembros de la AMGS se postulen para ser voluntarias en Nuestra Cabaña y un día espero tener la oportunidad de regresar de nuevo.  

It's time to go home / Es tiempo de volver a casa

IMG_6457 ESPAÑOL ABAJO Sofia Elwe, Sweden

Almost 5 months have passed at Our Cabaña and now the time has come to go back home. Being a volunteer here has been the funniest but also the most challenging thing I have done in my life. I have, for as long as I can remember, said that I would go and travel after I graduated, to see a bit of the world and to gain some life experience. To be a volunteer has been a good way to do this, I have had the opportunity of exploring Mexico and its culture, in a way I don't think I would have if I had travelled here by myself a few weeks, as well as I have learned new things every day when I have planned and held events with the other volunteers; everything from a new English word to how to use a speaker. Another good thing about being a volunteer at Our Cabaña is that you don't have to spend a lot of money. We get all the food for free (not if we eat out), the flight tickets are being paid by WAGGGS and all the trips we make during the events are of coursed, paid by Our Cabaña.

It is a lot of hard work and all work is not fun. Cleaning paint jars and counting band-aids are not the funniest things I have done, but the "boring" work has been worth it because even though some things are boring, there are even more things that are fun work!

My time here has been amazing, I couldn't have asked for better people to work with and even though I was confused 75% of the time in the beginning and it was hard with the English, I feel so proud of myself today that I made it!

Sofia Elwe, Suecia Casi 5 meses han pasado en Nuestra Cabaña y ahora ya tiempo de volver a casa. Ser voluntaria aquí es una de las cosas más divertidas que he heco en la vida, pero también una de las más retadoras. Desde que recuerdo, siempre había dicho que luego de graduarme quería viajar, ver un poco del mundo y ganar un poco de experiencia en la vida y ser voluntaria ha sido una gran manera de hacerlo; he tenido la oportunidad de explorar México y su cultura, (de una manera que no creo habría posible si hubiera viajado por mi cuenta durante algunas semanas) así como también aprendí cosas nuevas todos los días mientras planificaba y llevaba a cabo eventos con las otras voluntarias: desde palabras nuevas en inglés hasta como usar un parlante. Otra cosa genial de ser voluntaria en Nuestra Cabaña es que no tienes que gastar mucho dinero. Nuestra Cabaña se encarga de proveernos de nuestra comida (no cuando comemos afuera), mis pasajes de avión fueron pagados por la AMGS y todos los viajes y paseos que hacemos durante los eventos son pagados también por el Centro Mundial. Es cierto que las voluntarias trabajan mucho y que o todo es tán divertido, limpiar botes de pintura y contar curitas no son las cosas màs divertidas de hacer, pero esas cosas "aburridas" en realidad valen la pena porque son nada en comparación con las otras muchas cosas divertidas que puedes hacer aquí. Mi tiempo aquí ha sido maravilloso, no pude haber pedido por un equipo mejor con el que trabajar e incluso, cuando el principio estuve confundida el 75% del tiempo y me costó un poco de trabajo adaptarme al inglés, ¡hoy me siento muy orgullosa de mi misma por haberlo logrado!

What did we do during our free week?

After consecutively working for three events, we got a week off for relaxing and exploring more places in Mexico. It was an amazing and memorable week traveling with other volunteers. During the week, we visited various places around Mexico City. The advantage of staying in Mexico City is we can stay in Ticalli, the headquarter of Girl Guide of Mexico, for free. Also with the foods we brought from Our Cabana, this helped us to save some money too. The first place we visited was Xochimilco which is one of the UNESCO World Heritage Site in Mexico. It can be easily reached by public transportation from Mexico City. We had taken the brightly painted and decorated trajineras (a traditional flat-bottomed boat) along the walled canals lined with gardens and curtains for two hours. You can bring your own foods and drinks on the boat and also hire the Mariachi band to perform Mexican folk music. Besides of the canals, there is a craft market to visit too. Next, we spent a day in the Chapultepec Park in Mexico City which is only 15-minute walk from Ticalli. It is one of the largest city parks in the Western Hemisphere. We spent the whole morning in the Zoo with 2000 animals from more than 200 species. And then we had lunch next to the lake watching people rode on the water bikes. In the afternoon, we went up to the top of the hill to visit the Chapultepec Castle with the National Museum of History. This is the only royal castle in the Americas. And then we returned to Ticalli for dinner before the rains came. For the next two days, we travelled to Puebla City and Cholula and stayed in a hostel for a night. Puebla City was named a World Heritage Site in 1987 due to its history and architectural styles ranging from Renaissance to Mexican Baroque. We had visited the Puebla Cathedral, Church of Santo Domingo, Templo de San Francisco, Biblioteca Palafoxiana, Calle de los Dulces (Sweet Street) and Amparo Museum. It is a magical place to walk around and you would always find somethings surprise around the corners. The other place you must not miss in this region is the Great Pyramid of Cholula with the Nuestra Señora de los Remedios on top. According to the Guinness Book of Records, the Great Pyramid of Cholula is the largest pyramid as well as the largest monument ever constructed anywhere in the world. You can also explore the tunnels inside this pyramid. We climbed up the slope to visit the Catholic sanctuary. Here you can enjoy the majestic view of the city and view the Popocatépetl volcano if you are lucky. On the last day of our week off, we went to El Rollo, a water park, to celebrate Sofia’s birthday with all the staffs in Our Cabana. It is a giant water park equipped with various well-maintained attractions. We were all having a lot of fun there and were not eager to leave until the park close. We ended our day with a tired body but a sweet dream. As our stay in Our Cabana is going to the end, it was a treasure for us to have a fun and relaxing week together. In guiding, it doesn’t matter what you do, but with whom you do it.