An amazing cultural and educational experience!

On 12 August 39 Senior Branch members and 11 Leaders travelled to Pune in India where they stayed 12 days at Sangam World Centre (one of the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts’ five world centres). Here Marie Taylor, a Leader with Monasterboice Guides, writes about her experience:

The trip was an amazing cultural and educational experience, which I can only describe as being that of a lifetime.

We all stayed in Sangam, which is a Guide World Centre. While there we had the opportunity to experience the local foods and meet up with people in the local area who were all very friendly and happy. The children all wanted to know our names and, whenever we went out into the community, they would always gather and follow us.

During the trip we did community projects. I went to a special needs’ school, which was the first in India. The children do art, swimming, sport and dance. Others in the IGG group went to other community projects, such as a travelling school bus and local schools, while others visited a school in the slums along with other projects.

While there we visited a family and shared in their local way of life, which is a side you wouldn’t see as a tourist. We went on tuc tucs, which was an experience never to be forgotten! Also, the local market was a sight to behold. I have never seen so many people in one area and then to come across someone driving down through the middle of this was unbelievable.

One day we did a hike up a mountain – the views and scenery were just amazing. During the trip one of the Senior Branchers had her 16th birthday and we celebrated with a cake and candles!

We all had the opportunity to buy saris and, before we left, we all dressed up and did a Bollywood dance. Overall, it was an experience of a lifetime and one I will carry with me for the rest of my life.