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Event offers Girl Scouts close-up look at world cultures

By Keeli Parkey
Staff Writer
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In a world where globalization expands on an almost daily basis, understanding the cultures of people who live on the other side of the globe becomes increasingly important.
Recently, the Girl Scouts of Unicoi County hosted an International Tea. Seven of the county’s troops participated in the event, which was held on Saturday, March 17, at Unicoi United Methodist Church. The International Tea was held in conjunction with Girl Scout Friendship Day and the Girl Scout Birthday on March 12.
“The event is an attempt to expose the girls to cultures that they may not have the opportunity to visit or even learn about otherwise,” Troop Leader Renea Rogers told The Erwin Record. “Each troop selects a country that they want to represent at the tea.”
Each troop provides food and beverage items which are native to their chosen country. They also dress in clothing native to the country. “They do a lot of research,” Rogers said.
The day of the event each troop sets up a booth presenting their research, food, beverages and information about their country. The booths are also decorated in the styles of the chosen countries. During the event, each troop travels from booth to booth, learning about cultures very different from their own. Each scout is given a “passport” which is stamped as they “visit” each new country.
Even though children are often hesitant to try new foods and beverages, Rogers said the scouts are happy to try the foods and beverages from countries around the world.
“On this day, they’re all sampling and trying new things,” she said. “The girls really enjoyed it.”
“Each booth will also have information about what is comparable to Girl Scouts in that country,” Rogers said.
In addition to the countries represented by the scouts, Janet Hensley, who was recently selected as an ambassador for the Appalachian Trail Community in Unicoi County, was on hand to educate the troops about the trail.
“It was very neat for the girls to experience that culture through Miss Janet,” Rogers said. “She did a great job and was a great addition to our day.”
Hensley’s presentation, Rogers said, showed the troops that unique cultures can be found right in their backyard.
Exposure to different cultures, both locally and globally, is important, Rogers said.
“We’re not as isolated as we used to be, everything is more global,” she added. “With the internet and social networking, they need to have more knowledge about other countries and their cultures and what goes on.”
During the International Tea, France was represented by Troop 244; Troop 227 represented the Bahamas; Holland was represented by Troop 210; Troop 59 represented Greece; Ireland was represented by Troop 293; Troop 88 represented China; and Troop 201 represented Madagascar.