As you may have noted in my previous post, the physical demands of the World Scout Jamboree were somewhat extreme (at least to me). But I did prevail.
That leads me to talking about how the way I think changed due to the jamboree (what I learned will come after although it is related to this post).
So, how my thinking changed.
First of all, I’ve never been in an environment quite so multi-cultural before. Granted, Calgary is an international city (I may have mentioned before how on any given day I hear more than a dozen different languages spoken by residents) but it isn’t quite so international as the jamboree.
There were something like 143 countries and territories attending the jamboree in the forms of youth, leaders and International Service Team (the people who kept the jamboree running). Every continent on the planet (with the possible exception of Antarctica and I’m not entirely convinced about that one; may have seen a penguin or two roaming around) was represented on the site.
I know, going in, I was curious to see what kind of dynamic that would present. I thought for sure there would be some clash of cultures where one group would be at odds with another.
I was wrong. At least, I didn’t see or hear any evidence of it.
My youth spent time with many different nations. We, as a camp, hosted people from Norway, Poland, UK, and elsewhere for dinner. During our culture day we had people come by from more countries than I could count.
The closest we came to any kind of clash (and it wasn’t close at all) was when my youth wanted to do some badge trading with some of the Saudi Arabia contingent. It was after dark and the Saudi youth were not being allowed to leave their encampment.
So, my youth went to the Saudi camp and asked the Saudi leaders for permission to trade at their camp. They received it and the problem was solved. A difference of culture solved with a little understanding and work. At the end of the day, it wasn’t really a problem at all. And my youth learned something about how the Saudis live.
I think my own way of viewing the international community really changed the evening we had a rally of all the Scouts. Imagine 34,000 youth and 8,400 Internal Service Team members in one place. We heard from several dignitaries including the UN Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth, Ahmad Alhendawi who spoke about the importance of the global Scout Movement to the UN, and the role of youth as global citizens.
Before he was finished speaking the energy was almost overwhelming. I realized then that this truly was a place to bring global harmony to the front of mind. These youth, from every corner of the planet, were united to a common purpose.
How very exciting. How very motivating. How inspirational.
And I was part of it.
It got me thinking more about things I could personally do to improve the state of the world. Thinking I will continue and will act upon.
He was followed by the Chief Scout of the World who talked a little about Scouting’s original a mere 107 years ago. How far the movement has come. Over 3,000,000 Scouts worldwide. What kind of a difference can we make?
We also heard from Soichi Noguchi, an astronaut with JAXA who has been part of the International Space Station crew. He talked about how his life as a Scout lead up to his becoming an astronaut and how one day the movement will spread throughout the solar system. Again, truly inspirational (interesting fact: 11 of the 12 astronauts to step on the moon were Scouts).
I come home feeling like I am part of something much bigger than myself and that makes me proud. I also realize that the issues we face are not insurmountable. We need a common base to deal with each other and perhaps, Scouting is that common ground.
I also have come to better understand that our planet, for all it awesome grandeur really isn’t that big a place. What we do, wherever we are, affects everything and everyone. We have to be aware of that and act accordingly.