Nineteen-year-old Cassandra Walcott was a representative of the Girl Guides Association of Barbados at the Helen Storrow Seminar 2019 in Switzerland. She was also the recipient of the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Counts grant which allowed her to be able to travel to Switzerland free of cost.
Walcott, a former student of The Lodge School, is studying a Bachelor’s Degree in Biochemistry at the University of the West Indies and spoke to Positive Vibes about her experience and why she believes that young women should become involved in guiding as they celebrate 100 years of being a non-governmental organization in Barbados.
Q: What is your mantra for life?
A: My personal mantra would have to be: Guiding is not a choice, it is a lifestyle. Because every day that I wake up and prepare to go somewhere I use a lot of guiding strategies that I learned to assist me in everyday life.
Q: What inspired you to become involved in Girl Guides Association of Barbados?
A: I joined my mother’s Brownie Unit after being reluctant at first to join. I also became one of the youngest Sixers in my mother’s unit as I became a Sixer in Class 2. When I got into 2nd Form at The Lodge School I decided I wanted to become involved in Girl Guides but the unit started to die down because persons were focused on CXC’s and were not able to attend. For a long time, I was a guide without a unit until two years ago the guider that was in charge of the Young Leader asked me if I wanted to become a Young Leader. The difference between a Young Leader and a Ranger is that a Ranger has units of their own and they concentrate on community service. Young Leaders are assigned to other units and they help out the Guiders with their units.
Q: You just returned from the Helen Storrow Seminar in Switzerland where you represented the Girl Guides Association of Barbados. How were you selected to represent Barbados as well as the organization?
A: Last calendar year, the Girl Guides Association had a sleepover at Pax Hill where those who were interested in the Helen Storrow event that takes place every year from January to February were given the opportunity to interact with those who were in Switzerland at the time. It was that event that sparked my interest. We were able to communicate with people from across the world, from Switzerland, Trinidad and so on. I was sitting down in my Chemistry class when I received an email from our Chief Commissioner Nadia Skeete asking me if I wanted to do something environmental; I responded yes. When I got the news that I was accepted to represent at the Helen Storrow Seminar I was ecstatic. I never thought that by answering a question about if I wanted to do something environmental that I would be the only person to represent the Caribbean. From 120 applicants, I was one of 40 chosen. It was one of the best experiences I have ever had as a part of the Girl Guides Association of Barbados.
Q: How was your experience in Switzerland?
A: My experience in Switzerland was different from anything that I am used to. It was different speaking to people that are not native English speakers who can speak it as well as you do. It was interesting to learn that different places have different cultures. I made a lot of people’s day when I told them that we have ordained female priests in the Anglican church. They found it strange because in France and a couple other places this is not a common practice. For them, it was a breath of fresh air and something to aspire to.
Q: Do you think that Girl Guides Association of Barbados is a good outlet for young girls?
A: Yes, Guides was a good outlet. It allowed me to gain a lot of friends and learn a lot of things that you could not learn in school. There are aspects of life that you have to learn outside of school, outside of sitting down in front of a teacher. There are some things that you have to experience for yourself. There are certain skill sets that when they come home from camp, they employ such things like keeping your surroundings clean.
Q: What advice would you have for young girls seeking to enter the Girl Guides Association of Barbados?
A: All it takes is a simple question to find out information about Girl Guides and then you would be on your way to learn important life skills that you can implement in your day-to-day life. (LG)