I had a very unique experience this summer. After going through the application process, 140 volunteers from across Canada were selected to work at the WAGGGS Conference and I was one of them! I could hardly believe my luck.
As the date of the Conference drew nearer, little bits of information started to arrive. My anticipation built when I got my plane ticket and an orientation manual. Before I knew it, I was at the airport saying goodbye, embarking on an adventure that I will always remember.
I was chosen to volunteer at the 29th World Conference for the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS). It was held at Acadia University in Wolfville Nova Scotia from July 16-23. WAGGGS is the largest voluntary organization for women and girls in the world, with more than 8.5 million members in 134 countries.
The World Conference is the governing and policy making body of the World Association. The Conference is held every three years. This year's Conference was attended by over 500 delegates and observers from over 100 full and associate member countries.
To run a conference of this size, volunteers were of course needed. The Canadian Volunteers working at the conference had a wide variety of jobs. All of the volunteers are members of Girl Guides of Canada - Guides du Canada. The areas of volunteer included administration, programme, finance, hospitality, site and publicity along with other related duties.
I was at the Conference with the job title of Conference Assistant. There were 25 of us (the youngest group), ranging in age from 15 to 19. Our job was to help out on the Conference floor doing things such as running messages, filling water jugs, helping with presentations and anything else that needed to be done. We also had the "other related duties", such as unloading the buses as the delegates arrived and helping them get settled. Many of the other volunteers told us that we had the best job and I would tend to agree.
The two weeks were a lot of hard work for both the delegates and the volunteers. The days at the Conference Hall were filled with presentations, votes and discussions. The evenings tended to be when all the fun happened. There were several parties throughout the Conference where delegates and Canadian Volunteers had the opportunity to intermingle and have a taste of the diverse cultures by sampling food, costume, music and dance.
Volunteering at this Conference truly showed me what the sisterhood of Guiding is all about. There were so many people represented by the 500 smiling faces that if you had any doubts of the vast existence of WAGGGS, it was truly evident at the Conference.
Unfortunately, after nearly two weeks together of sharing ideas and stories, it was time to say goodbye to our new friends. Maybe someday we will meet again.
The next World Conference will be held in 1999 in Ireland, allowing new people to share in the wonderful experience brought on by volunteering at the World Conference.
Four of the five volunteers at the WAGGGS Conference from the Ottawa Area. L-R. Glenda Keeley, Angela Darwin, Andrea Gutauskas, Amy Porteous. Photo courtesy of Angela Darwin.
When the opportunity presented itself to have our picture taken with Roberta Bondar, we jumped at the chance. L-R. Angela Darwin, Susan Smith, Roberta Bondar, Lisa Beaudry. Photo courtesy of Angela Darwin.
After the Conference was over, the Canadian Volunteers had a bit of a party, a Ceilidh. T he night of the Ceilidh was a mystery. We had no more information than an invitation. When we got into the numerous cars that were to take us to a secret location, the drivers didn't even know where we were headed. All they had was a map. We ended up going to Halls Harbour, a picturesque location for a fresh lobster dinner followed by a campfire. We all had a wonderful time together for our last night in Nova Scotia. Photo courtesy of Angela Darwin.