An incredible experience at The Academy!

Orla O’Neill, a Leader with Sí Gaoith Guides in Barna and with Galway City Senior Branch, attended The Academy in Slovenia with Alison Cahill, an IGG Leader in Rathdowney, and Emily Yule, an IGG Leader based in Carlow. Here Orla writes about her experience:

The Academy is an annual event which takes place in a different European country every year. At this event people on a national committee get a chance to network with Guides and Scouts from across Europe and attend workshops to improve their committee skills.

The 2019 Academy took place in Kranjska Gora in Northern Slovenia. It is a beautiful ski village but, unfortunately, the weather was not good enough to head out on a hike. It was raining the whole time we were there but that did not hinder the beautiful views.

The small town was overrun by 200 Guides and Scouts from 43 different countries, coming together with the similar aim of wanting to improve their Guiding or Scouting associations. We quickly made friends and shared ideas from our home countries. It was very interesting to learn about how different countries run their programmes. We were put into Patrols and, with them, we were able to bounce ideas that we wanted to bring home. I will continue to work with my Patrol after coming home; they are a great bunch of people, full of inspiration and knowledge.

During the daytime, we attended an assortment of workshops with loads of information to bring home. There were workshops on programme creating, making room for diversity, advocacy, leadership skills and much more. It was all very interesting and there was so much I wanted to do! I tried to attend as many as possible to better myself as a Leader.

The fun did not stop there! In the evenings there were different activities planned, including a karaoke night, an international night and a wide game where we learned about Slovenian culture. I particularly enjoyed International Night. It was amazing to see so many cultures packed into one room. I had a chance to walk around to every stall, try native foods and learn a bit about the different cultures. It was wonderful to see how different our homes are, but we were still united through Guiding and Scouting. At the Irish stall, we asked people to pronounce Irish names. The results were very funny!

I have learned loads about international Guiding and Scouting, how to properly run an organisation and a bit about other cultures. I have made new friends and I feel inspired to help Irish Girl Guides to grow into the best organisation it can be! I am excited to use what I learned, both at a Unit level and a national level. I hope that I will be able to share everything I picked up with as many Leaders as possible.

It truly was an incredible experience and I am already excited for whoever ends up going next year!