Why go on an International Trip?
I have been lucky enough to go on two international trips with Girlguiding and to experience very different styles of trip (and two extremely different cultures). I am convinced that travelling with Girlguiding is the best way to explore new countries- I would highly encourage everybody reading this to apply for a trip! Travelling with guiding genuinely gives you friendships that will last a lifetime. I am still in touch, not only with the girls from my trips, but also some of the people we met abroad too. You become closer with the girls you travel with, as you are living together the whole time- so it’s no surprise that some of my best friends are the people I travelled with (we still meet up around the south east of England!). You find you are like-minded individuals with a passion for travelling and guiding.
I couldn’t imagine my life without the incredible people that I met, both on my trip, and in the countries that we visited. Furthermore, the skills you gain from going abroad are ones you will not get anywhere else. They stand out on CVs/university applications and the best bit is, you’re having fun whilst developing them! Skills such as teamwork, time management, fundraising and organisation are all very valuable skills for your future. Fundraising for your trip is no easy task, however trust the process and little by little, the total does slowly add up! There are lots of grants available to you too, so apply for them all! I truly believe coming out of my international experiences, that I’m a better person. You experience things nobody else in the world, except you and the girls you’re with, will get to experience. Volunteering abroad not only changes the lives of the people you’re helping, but it also changes you. You see first-hand the difference you’re making and it’s the greatest feeling in the world. On both of my trips, I kept thinking: when else would I be able to see and do this?! So that is why I would recommend applying, as you never know when you might get the chance again, where it may take you or influence your life choices.
How do I get on an International Trip?
To apply for international trips, the best place to start would be to ask your leader as they’ll know about all the available events and the selection days. There is a jamboree next year, for which there is an application form on the LaSER website and you don’t even need a selection day. For other trips, however, there is some selection involved. This could be a weekend (or in my case a day trip). They’re lots of fun and are really there for leaders to get to know you. Don’t be too disheartened if you don’t get offered a place the first time around, as there is always another opportunity and at least you’ve had an enjoyable weekend/day. For local, smaller scale trips, it is usually just one selection weekend/day and then you wait to hear back if you’ve been given a place or not. For the longer LaSER Volunteering Expedition trips, if you are successful in your local selection you’ll be invited to the Girlguiding LaSERIO weekend in September, where the teams for the region expeditions will be formed (the leaders essentially work out who works well together, so that groups for the trips can be decided). These expeditions then depart the following summer. This weekend is a chance to meet as many new people as you can, while the leaders see who is compatible together. After that, you have a year to fundraise for the trip as well as attending fun and busy training weekends to get to know everybody. By the time you get to your destination, you will know everyone quite well!
The fundraising can seem quite daunting, but every little penny adds up, and trust me the effort is beyond worth it. The whole process is so rewarding, and when it’s over you’ll wish you could do it all over again. In terms of applying for trips, the final thing I’d say is to keep your eyes peeled and ears open about any opportunities available. The LaSER website is very good at updating all the regional opportunities coming up- if you’re interested in more local scale trips then ask your leader or check your local website if you have one (do bear in mind, due to the current situation, some trips have been cancelled or postponed but you could always start applying and planning for one in the future!)