Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Girl Scouts Inspired by Cultural Heritage

GSNC Celebrates National Heritage Week

The Girl Scouts of Nassau County (GSNC) is getting ready for National Heritage Week on November 19-25 by highlighting the different opportunities available for Girl Scouts to express their heritage. Originated in Savannah, Georgia 101 years ago, Girl Scouting has been an American tradition for over 59 million women nationwide. Despite the organization’s deep American roots, GSNC offers a number of ethnic and cultural groups where Girl Scouts can share their heritage and traditions with fellow Girl Scouts.

GSNC’s three ethnic groups are the Hispanic/Latino Task Force, the Asian Task Force and the Umoja Task Force. Each group meets with members quarterly to discuss how they can engage their communities through a variety of events.

East Meadow resident and Girl Scout Ambassador Kavita from Troop #1109 credits her sense of pride for her Indian heritage to the Girl Scouts of Nassau County. “GSNC has been a prominent factor in the expression and understanding of my heritage,” said Kavita. “Within Girl Scouting, I am provided an environment in which I feel comfortable and proud to display my heritage.”

As a member of the GSNC Asian Task Force, Kavita is thankful about the opportunity to educate others about her Indian customs, as well as learning about her peers’ ethnic traditions through GSNC programming. “The Asian Task Force has permitted me to learn more about my culture and has given me the opportunity to share my traditions with fellow Girl Scout sisters in our cultural festivals,” she said.

Girl Scout Senior Maribel, a Bellmore resident from Troop #971 says GSNC has taught her to embrace her Mexican and Italian heritages. “Girl Scouts has allowed me, as well as other girls, to embrace and accept what our heritage is,” said Maribel. “Not only do I get the best of both worlds by being Mexican and Italian, but I love being able to share my family traditions with my friends and peers.”

Rockville Centre resident and Girl Scout Senior Emma from Troop #2284 learned about her heritage through the GSNC Hispanic/Latino Task Force. “I am Cuban and Dominican,” she said. “I learned about my heritage by participating in events presented by the Latino Task Force.” Thanks to GSNC, Emma’s Hispanic heritage extends further than her Girl Scout involvement: “I love to sing, and I grew up listening to a lot of Latin music which has deeply influenced my taste in music,” she said.

Kavita and Maribel also apply their customs and traditions outside of Girl Scouting.

I take pride in the diversity and cultural aspects of my heritage,” said Kavita. “I start most mornings with a cup of warm chai, an Indian tea I’ve grown up on due to the influence of my grandparents, and I also enjoy Indian food a few times a week.”

Maribel’s heritage is also a part of her everyday life. “We eat Mexican food and celebrate certain holidays, like the Day of the Dead and Little Christmas,” she said. “My family and I incorporate Italian culture by also eating Italian food and singing Italian music.”

Emma recognizes the benefits of having a diverse heritage: “I like that I can speak two languages, being able to speak Spanish will help me for the rest of my life,” she said.

Girl Scouts of Nassau County is constantly teaching girls to not only express their heritage but to proudly embrace it. “Girl Scouts of Nassau County has not only allowed me to learn about my heritage, but the heritage of others as well,” said Kavita.

 “GSNC taught us not to be embarrassed but rather to be proud of who we are,” added Maribel.

GSNC is the preeminent leadership development organization for girls, with almost 20,000 girl and 7,000 adult members across Nassau County. GSNC is a leading authority on girls' healthy development, and builds girls of courage, confidence, and character, who make the world a better place. For more information on how to join, volunteer, reconnect with, or donate to Girl Scouts of Nassau County, visit www.gsnc.org or contact Donna Rivera-Downey at 516 741-2550.

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