Girl Scout Ambassador Kathryn Thomas reflects on how Girl Scouting and her experiences have shaped her future thinking.
Every other Wednesday for the past 11 years at approximately 6:15 p.m., I have recited the Girl Scout Promise and Law. I have promised to live by this collection of character traits and actions. We all know how it goes: I will do my best to be honest and fair, friendly and helpful, considerate and caring, courageous and strong, responsible for what I say and do, to respect myself and others, respect authority, use resources wisely, make the world a better place and be a sister to every Girl Scout. The beginning part of this, the adjectives, have always been easy to come by. It is e asy to be helpful and to be a good friend. It is easy to be strong and caring. It is easy to be responsible and respectful. All of these traits are easy to live by, but the section that always seemed hard to follow was “make the world a better place.” How am I, at seven years old supposed to make the world a better place, especially if I can’t even remember to brush my hair or put matching shoes on?
So, my seven-year-old self worked to make my community a better place, by helping my local humane society or my local domestic abuse shelter. And while these are beneficial and strengthened my community as well as myself, I always wanted to do more. I felt a drive in my heart that was calling for me to go beyond Hendersonville, North Carolina, to go beyond my own world, and into the world.
When my mother came home from the monthly service unit meeting with a flyer about being a delegate for the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), I knew this was something I had to be a part of. Immediately, I began working on the application essays my council requested, spending more time on them than my homework some nights. I had many of my friends read what I had written and give me feedback on where I could strengthen my writing because I knew I had to nail these essay questions if this was going to happen. Flash forward to December, right after basketball practice, walking across campus to my school’s auditorium to watch “The Grinch”, I refreshed my e-mail and sitting in my inbox was an e-mail from Carol Covington. Before I opened it, all I could read was “Congratulations!” That had to mean I was chosen to serve as a delegate right? (spoiler alert: it did!) This was it, this was how I was going to fulfill the promise I had been making every other Wednesday since 2007, this is how I would make the world a better place.
In my day-to-day life, it is rare that I am in a situation made up of entirely adults, so being one of the few youths at CSW was a remarkable feeling. I feel that our presence at such a high-level event sent the message that our youth’s voices need to be not just listened to, but taken into account when drafting conclusion documents and new laws. Being there with my peers, walking down the corridors of the U.N. headquarters, I felt like we were all very powerful individuals coming together to form an unstoppable entity. With this feeling, I knew that I was not alone in this fight, for I am not the only young woman advocating for gender equality, but these incredible women by my side are committed as well, and we are in this global battle together.
While attending CSW, I served as an Advocacy Liaison, having the responsibility of attending sessions that related to a topic and then writing a concluding report upon the close of the week. My topic of focus was education, and while yes I had read many articles and reports on the lack of access to education that girls in rural areas face and how that reduces their livelihood as an adult, it was so powerful and meant something completely different looking at someone sitting in front of you and listening to them describe the situation in their nation. The matter seemed so much more real because this wasn’t a list of statistics from a CNN article, it was someone’s life, it was this woman’s story.
It was so inspiring to see high-school girls, girls my age on stage talking about the political action they had taken in their communities. It was sitting in this event that I began to develop an idea for my Gold Award, where I would take political action in my own community, through empowering and educating youth to be advocate.
After serving as a delegate at CSW, I can say that this was definitely an opportunity in my life that will not stand alone.This is not the only way that I will make the world a better place, but instead, this opportunity will serve as a catalyst in my life. After CSW, I felt so empowered and inspired to continue working to make the world a better place. I truly believe that this is my life’s purpose, that I will spend the rest of my life working to always make the world a better place. And while I don’t know what that looks like in my life quite yet, I know that once I figure it out, I will know in my heart it is where I am supposed to be.
And this opportunity will forever serve as a catalyst for my ultimate goal of fulfilling the promise I make every other Wednesday at approximately 6:15: to “make the world a better place.”