Tuesday, 17 January 2017

Senior Branchers learn to use their voices at Girlguiding event!

Hi I’m Eimear.

I met up with Aoife, Louise, Emily, Amy and Abigail for a weekend of fun and excitement at the Use Your Voice weekend in London. This is what we got up to:

Day 1:
After a short drive through London we arrived at YHA St. Pauls where we would be staying for the weekend at around 9:30pm. After quickly dropping our bags and logging onto the Wi-Fi we headed out for dinner.

However, after strolling along the streets of London for about five minutes, we discovered that most places in London where we could get
food closed by 9pm (It turns out most people eat dinner before 9). After walking all the way to a busy junction we stopped to sum up our options, by which of course I mean figure out what to do, as there seemed to be no options to choose from.

However, after standing there looking confused for only a few moments, our knight in shining armour arrived (well, he was dressed in jeans and a t-shirt but you know what I mean). He quickly drew out his iPhone from its scabbard and, after looking up several Asian and Chinese fast foods that were all closed, he eventually managed to direct us to an Express Pizza that was open till 11:30pm. Thanking him, we hurried off and were soon digging into some delicious pizzas.

We then sleepily made our way back to the hostel only to discover there had been a Pizza Express just around the corner from it all along. After that we all quickly climbed into bed and dropped off to sleep with the sound of the bells from St. Paul’s Cathedral ringing in our heads.

Day 2:

It was an early-ish start the next morning. And after a quick bite to eat we excitedly headed off to The Warehouse to register for the event. After registering and grabbing a goody bag full of goodies and, of course, that all important badge I scurried off to my first workshop ‘Using your Voice by Blogging’. This was a really interesting talk as we were taught a bit about how you can use a blog for activism. You really can reach hundreds of people just by going onto the internet. We even counted up all our social media followers to find out how many people in the world we could reach. I think it was somewhere in the region of 2,000. It really showed that blogs CAN help influence change.

Next up it was ‘Your campaigner toolkit’ where we were equipped with what we needed to enter the world of activism and campaigning. After that I attended a talk on ‘Three inspiring campaigns’. The campaigns we learnt about were all really different. There were big ones such as Greenpeace and its campaign against Shell where it targeted Lego but then there were also smaller ones such as the greenheart campaign that demonstrated that by doing something as small as wearing a badge that you can support a campaign and create a conversation about it without the need to jump in to far too fast.

We got lunch, which was when I got to have some fun trying to figure out pounds and pence, and then it was off to Westminster for me along with Emily and Louise to learn about the New Dawn art installation which is based on the suffragettes. It was incredibly interesting as the tour we were given was all based on the suffragettes and their campaign to secure votes for women.

When the tour was finished we set off for a bite to eat. Then full up, we all made our way to the top of City Hall for the ‘Live from the Living Room’ event. If we were full before we came we were bursting by the time we left. I don’t even want to think about the amount of chocolate I ate. We were treated to a powerful speech from a suffragette, a short concert by Eva Supertramp, a poetry recital by the youth mayor of London as well as a talk from WAGGGs chair Nicola Grinstead. They were all very inspiring women who had a powerful message to share with us: that we could change the world. In between these talks we had ‘mingle’ periods during which we collected badges, ate canapés and even did a radio interview for GENE. It was a tiring but rewarding day and, safe to say, we had absolutely no trouble falling asleep that night.

Day 3:
Another day full of exciting workshops and talks awaited us on Sunday. First up, Aoife and I went to the ‘Science of Storytelling’ talk by Rebecca Baron.  This was quite an unusual talk as it was all about how storytelling works and how to capture someone’s attention and get them to relate to your character. It was also about how storytelling could be used as a form of activism as people remember things better if there is a story behind it which I found particularly interesting as I had never considered storytelling as a form of activism before. 

The next talk on my agenda was ‘Being Nourished by Stories’. This was quite a relaxing talk during which we got to sit and listen to a story. I really enjoyed this as we could take our own interpretations from the story and have our own views of what it meant.

Leaving slightly early, I went off to a yoga session. This was a great time to just relax and stretch out your body. Finally, after a hurried lunch, it was time for our last workshop of the event.

Mine was improvised comedy and what better way to finish off the event than with a good few giggles. This was a very hands-on workshop and if I was anyway sleepy after the yoga session I was soon woken up after jumping out of a plane and dealing with a group of radiators that had decided to start a revolution. The best thing about improvised comedy is that it’s improvised! So absolutely anything goes.

Then it was a quick drive to the airport, some shopping and then at long last it was time for goodbyes, for me anyway as I was going on a different flight with Clare. I had an amazing few days in London; I met so many people and learnt so much. My advice to anyone who ever sees an opportunity that they would like to do but aren’t quite sure about is to just do it. You will never know how much you would have discovered if you don’t go.

~ Eimear O’Sullivan, Bishopstown Senior Branch, Cork

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