A few weeks ago, for World Thinking Day, we asked our readers to share their International Stories with us. Here is a story from Alba Aguilar, a Girl Guide who visited GSNC from El Salvador. Here is her story…
I am Alba Aguilar, a Salvadoran lawyer and I am 31 years old. I was born and raised in the smallest country in Central America known as the Thumb of Central America or the Land of Smiles, El Salvador.
I live with my family, my parents and two sisters. My mother has always been my role model, a very helpful woman, a visionary, having great faith and principles, who along with my father sacrificed to give us the best education. This is their legacy for my sisters and me. They believe only education opens the doors to endless opportunities and to grow as individuals and professionals.
My sisters joined the “Alitas” of the Girls Scouts movement in 1997 in a group that was started in my neighborhood. I was never interested in participating, until one day they met at my house and, as a good hostess, I was ready to help out in developing the program with the younger girls. So, it was on that day April 26, 1998, that I made the only decision of my life without giving it much thought. I entered the Girl Scouts Association as a Master Guide in El Salvador and then I started writing a new story of my life.
While I was a Senior Girl Scout, I learned a lot and met new people. I participated as a member of staff at my first camp and I had my first trip abroad to Our Cabaña in Mexico. This was an unforgettable experience that changed my life. I became a Brownie leader, and when I was 19 years old I entered the National Council of Girl Scout, where I participated in various positions of decision making, such as National Commissioner of the “Alitas” group, International Commissioner and now as President of the organization in El Salvador.
In September 2002, the International Commissioner at the time, called me to say that the Association had received a special invitation from the Girl Scouts of Nassau County, and had thought of me to apply for this opportunity. I immediately said I could not make the trip, for I knew that my parents had no money to pay for visa arrangements and airfare expenses. But when God has prepared His plan for you your whole life, everything falls into place. My mother obtained a loan so that I would not miss this great opportunity to celebrate the 90th anniversary of the Girl Scouts of United States.
It was a unique experience to visit different places: the office of Girl Scouts in New York and Nassau County, the Girl Scout Troops, various representatives of the Latino community who have excelled in the United States. We did have a very special time at a high school where we met several latino girls, the majority were Salvadoran that had emigrated to the U.S. and were going through a difficult period of transition at that time.
Fourteen years after that unforgettable experience, I continue to be very active in the Girl Scouts, now as President of the Association of Girl Scouts of El Salvador, where I feel very honored and proud to serve. I've been able to share my knowledge and experiences with more girls and young people in my country and in other places inside and outside my country.
During the last fourteen years, I decided to continue studying various subjects such as finance, project development and climate change; I participated in meetings at several locations where I had the honor of representing the World Association of Girl Scouts. I discovered other doors that led me to learn about other issues, to know other countries, cultures, and the concerns and challenges of many people who want to do good in the world. These great opportunities I found through my participation in Girl Scouting and have become the basic elements of my own story which I want to share with others, to encourage them not to give up when they encounter difficulties. The most important thing is to serve joyfully and to lead with the heart, because the world needs people like YOU, and leaders like YOU to keep making changes in the world.