GOLD 2023

Over the past year I have been working towards and planning for my GOLD project. GOLD is Guiding Overseas Linked with Development and its main aim is to send a team of 6 leaders from the UK to another country which has Girlguiding or Girl Scouts to help sustainably develop and aid in the development of their programme through training. I signed up for GOLD in March of 2022 and then was successful at Go for GOLD in September and I found out about my project in December and since then myself and the team have been working towards GOLD Senegal 2023! We spent 3 weeks in the country and over that time we trained 236 young women and girls, visited 4 towns and cities in 3 different regions of Senegal and we had a truly amazing time and I hope this inspires you to apply as well! Here are some things I learnt, didn’t expect and some advice.

3 Things I learnt;

  1. Making an effort to have a conversation with someone even with a language barrier is vitally important.

It was really difficult sometimes as they speak French in Senegal and no-one in our team is fluent, but using translators and broken language went a really long way and we were able to find out so much more about the country and what people’s lives are really like! As I’m currently learning to drive I spoke to some guides about how they learn to drive in Senegal, information that didn’t have an impact on the project but it was a topic that we could connect on and thats what was important

  1. I learnt how to plan, write and deliver a training plan.

All of the sessions we delivered were written by various members of the team, and this meant that we had to be shown how to write training plans, as this was something I had never done before I initially found it quite difficult, but as a team we were supported through it and I ended up producing some great plans which we were able to use. We also wrote some in the moment whilst we were in country piecing different plans together which was something I really enjoyed as we were able to produce a plan which was more suitable for the group which we were training.

  1. Sleeping in a tent in 30 degree weather isn’t the most pleasant!

We spent 4 nights in tents over the course of the project, at night time the temperature only just dropped below 30 so it was really hot and our tents spent most of the day cooking in the sun so it felt even worse! But overall camping was fun, as we were with loads of other members of guiding, the food we had was always delicious and at night the stars were really beautiful. We managed the heat with fans and clothes dipped in cool water.

3 Things that I didn’t expect;

  1. Taxi drivers rarely knew where they were going and would often ask random people on the side of the road for directions. This happened a few times especially when we were in more rural areas as there weren’t street signs or maps which were useful so we relied on other people. We always managed to get to our destinations without getting lost so asking people worked pretty well!
  2. How much time members of Guides du Senegal were willing to give up for us. Due to our inability to speak French we always needed someone to travel with us or help us get taxis and the members we met were always willing to do that and would leave work and come to help as well as take time out of their busy lives to take us places. When we were in Dakar there were some tourist destinations we wanted to visit (African Renaissance Monument and Goree Island) and 2 members of Guides du Senegal took us to both of these places on their days off from work. It was so kind of them to help us even if they didn’t need to and I haven’t experienced such hospitality before and it was lovely to see.
  3. We had quite a few run-ins with various animals – the first was a cockroach which was in the AirBnB we stayed in and that caused quite an issue! Then there were some very loud bats whilst we were camping for the first time, I truly didn’t realise how loud bats were and how big they can be in person. Then the most shocking was when a bright orange monkey ran in front of our car whilst we were driving to a new location!

3 Pieces of advice for GOLD applicants:

  1. GOLD is a completely new experience so don’t feel bad for feeling homesick or finding culture shock to be hard to deal with. For me this was the longest I have ever been away from home and it was difficult at times, but I quickly found that talking to the team and especially my wonderful team leader really, really helped as we were all feeling the same way!
  2. Things won’t go quite to plan and that’s ok – half-way through our project we got a sickness bug as a team, we all recovered quickly but it was hard to deal with and we sadly had to change some plans. We were also at training sessions where we were told lunch would be at 1 and it ended up being at 3 so we had to move our training sessions about – but in the end we still managed to run the training and eat a delicious meal, we just had to stay calm and adapt.
  3. Finally the GOLD motto; Expect the unexpected.

Flossie Shaw GOLD Team Senegal 2023


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