After 3 weeks with the Girl Scouts program at UWEAST, I have started getting to know many of the students as well as some of the staff members at the center. One of my first reactions to being at the center was how open the space felt. Staff echoed this by sharing that the center is a place where anyone is welcome in the afternoons for a place to do homework or spend time. Even during specific scheduled programming, like Girl Scouts, others are welcome to use the space. Being at the center each week has reminded me of the importance of community spaces, and how they foster an environment, especially in this case, that is supportive of both personal, and community, development and well-being.
Within the Girl Scouts program, I have gotten to see how the staff facilitates programming that caters directly to the developmental stage that many of these girls are at. A lot of the projects aim to offer opportunities that foster social-emotional learning and growth, including through discussion. Despite how young many of the participants are, they are always eager to share their thoughts and experiences on a variety of discussion topics including African identity, the importance of self-care, things that cause stress, and the value of believing in oneself. And the activities that the girls do, after these discussions, are tied into these very same themes. This program and the curriculum being delivered, at this specific age, is so important in helping to allow the girls to have a safe space to express themselves, learn from their peers, and discuss important topics that are becoming increasingly relevant in their lives as they grow up. In the coming weeks, I look forward to continuing to spend time at the center while learning from the girls and assisting the staff as they facilitate fun and meaningful programming.