Sorcha Harkin (front right), a leader with Sleaty Guides, Graiguecullen, Carlow, pictured with fellow Juliette Low Seminar participants at the Cabana Guide World Centre in Mexico
A Carlow Guide Leader who attended an international leadership training seminar in Mexico has returned home all set to make a positive impact on her local community, including younger members of Irish Girl Guides (IGG).
Sorcha Harkin, a Leader with Sleaty Guides in Graiguecullen, was one of eleven IGG members to participate in the Juliette Low Seminar, which took place simultaneously in eighteen countries around the world.
The young Guide Leaders jetted off to hubs across the globe, including to Poland, Nigeria, Oman, Madagascar and New York while three stayed in Ireland to participate in the Irish hub, which took place in Gormanston Park, Meath.
The young women were among 500+ young Guide Leaders from around the world to take part in the international seminar, which is organised by the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS) every three years.
It was the first time for it to take place in different locations at the same time and IGG was honoured to be selected as one of the host nations.
The 500+ participants all followed the same Lead Out Loud programme to help them develop their leadership skills. Each of them has pledged to share these skills with girls and young women in their own communities.
Assuming each participant reaches 200 girls over the next two years, a total of 100,000 girls and young women will be empowered to also lead and bring about positive change in their communities.
Sorcha Harkin said her experience of the Juliette Low Seminar at Our Cabana Guiding World Centre in Mexico was an "incredible experience" where she met "amazing women" from all over the world.
"We shared our stories and experiences of gender-based discrimination and discussed how we can change the world so that those experiences become a thing of the past," she said.
"It was so interesting to hear about issues that affect women in different countries from different backgrounds and cultures and it was empowering and comforting to know that we all experience similar things and that we all have an incredible support system in the form of WAGGGS.
"While the subject of the seminar was very heavy, it was run in a way that made it great fun to talk about.
"We played giant board games with challenges involved, ran relay races, jumped in the pool every opportunity we got and even had a karaoke night out!
"We made the most of every opportunity and made friends with everyone, even though a lot of us didn’t speak the same language.
"The fact that it was in a Guiding World Centre was the cherry on top. It was an incredible experience and one that I’ll never forget."
Sorcha said she was looking forward to sharing her experiences with other girls and young women in the community and that she hoped to undertake advocacy work to seek changes in the direct provision system in Ireland.