By: Siddeeq Shakoor
On the 26th of December 2015, I embarked on a journey with a fellow Scout leader, Patrick Welch, to Inter-American Leadership Training held in Muxbal, Guatemala to represent our country of Trinidad and Tobago. Little did we know that this journey would change our lives forever.
Inter-American Leadership Training is a programme designed to train Scout leaders of the Inter-American Scout Region. Its objective simply revolves around making the world a better place by creating leaders who could take up leadership roles in their National Scout Organisations and have them equipped to carry out a Messengers of Peace project.
We had the chance to work with over 60 scouts from different countries of our region for this the third training of its kind. Held at Campo Escuela de San Jorge in Muxbal, it was a week full of workshops, conferences, forums and the development of the global programme of Messengers of Peace.
World Scouting’s Messengers of Peace Initiative, launched by the World Scout Committee in 2011, aims to inspire the millions of Scouts who are doing amazing things in their local communities to tell the world about it, and thus inspire other Scouts to do even more. Any Scout project that brings a positive change in a community – its health, environment, social circumstances, safety or addresses conflict – is a Messengers of Peace project.
Before we left Trinidad, both Patrick and I received national scarves, which we felt proud to wear throughout the camp. We arrived at the campsite two days before the training officially began. On welcoming participants on our second day, it quickly became evident that during the course there would be language barriers that would make communication more difficult but we would later learn that Scouting is the universal language that unites us all.
I was placed on to the Yellow Team which included eight leaders like me and one Team Advisor who would oversee us. Our team advisor was from Peru and the members of the team included participants from Ecuador, Brazil, Argentina, Dominican Republic, Venezuela and St. Vincent and the Grenadines. We would participate in most activities as a team, similar to the patrol system, with a different team leader being elected from amongst us each day.
One of the most anticipated nights was International Night and the New Year’s Eve Celebration. Each country was given a booth to mount a national display and some countries got to do a song or dance from their county. Participants wore clothing representing their country and their local foods.
The Trinidad and Tobago booth was amongst the best as we had a great variety of items to give away including maps of T&T, pens, bookmarks, bags, fliers and pamphlets and more, which all finished quickly. I wore a red kurta and a turban to symbolize my East Indian culture and heritage in Trinidad and Tobago and gave out Kurma and Channa to everyone. I also displayed 1st Naparima College Sea Scout merchandise and our 60th anniversary magazine. All the Scouts who viewed the magazine enjoyed the glimpse into what Scouting is like at 1st Naps.
On our last day, my team, Team Yellow, revealed our Messenger of Peace project ‘Food for Tomorrow’ that addresses the world problem of hunger. We decided that in each of our countries we would collect donations of food or money to purchase food, which we would distribute to those in need. We worked as a team to develop the project and presented it. We vowed to remain connected and continue to work together to see the project develop in our respective countries.
We started the course as strangers and we ended it as family – a true representation of what Scouting is like. It was by far the best experience of my life. Notwithstanding all the knowledge we gained, one truly valuable aspect of ILT is the formation of lasting friendships and bonds that was developed with people from different countries that could be used to link different National Scouting Organisations and help unite the region at large.
I intend to use the knowledge and experience that I gained from ILT to develop Scouting in my country, the Caribbean and hopefully in the Inter-American Region. I now stand prepared and excited to use my training to the best of my ability. ILT has trained me in leadership and being a Messenger of Peace to make the world a better place but it also gave me the best week of my life. Now I am here in Trinidad ready to better the community, the country and to help create a better world.