Last week was Girls Leading Our World (GLOW) Camp 2011! It was a fabulous time, even better then last year! My friend and counterpart Zeynab's daughter went as well as another student of mine from Qazax. Total there were 44 Azeribaijani campers, 10 Azerbaijani trainers and on average about 10 PCV's at camp each day. It was in Gabala again but at a different "resort" with a beautiful lake we could swim in.Can you find me?! ;)
Thanks to Grandma Scott and mom for sending the glow sticks for "Disco GLOW," the gils thought they were SO cool and wore them as jewelry even after the glow went out.
On the talent show night there was a really special moment where the Azerbaijani trainers wanted to sing the Americans a song. It was in Azerbaijani and about friendship, it gets me chocked up now just thinking about it again. They brought out this Azeri flag and a picture they had drawn of an American flag and told us how much it meant to all of them that we came here to help them through a beautiful song. Everyone got up and danced along, there wasn't a dry eye in the room.
We made tie-dye and had special markers to write all over them. They girls had a blast with that. This was an awesome spot right out on the lake where we had a bonfire the last night.
GLOW Azerbaijan is a mix of doing fun, creative games, crafts and what not, normal American summer camp fun as well having an empowering theme for two work sessions and a guest speaker each day. This years themes were Leadership, Gender, Career Sacrifices of Women (in Azerbaijan) and Goal Setting. The Azeri trainers were the leaders of these sessions and a special Azeri woman was brought in as a guest speaker each day. This camp is about showing these Azeri girls that there can be more to their life then being a housewife (if they wish to do something different that is). It also just gives them an experience they may never have again-a week away from their family, in a region they may never see again, with girls their own age and the freedom and space to be absolutely themselves in. Most of these girls probably had never left their own town/village before this and unless they go to Baku sometimes (everyone seems to have family there!) they may never again. They will also live with their own family and soon their husbands family in a confined space where there is no room to be independent or individual. I hope that their time at GLOW gave them freedom, at least for a week, and that they will never forget it. I myself feel so lucky that I was able to work so closely with GLOW for the past two years. It was a major part of my Peace Corps Service and it is something I know I will never forget.
Thank you again to you all that donated money this year and/or sent supplies this year and last year. You know who you are (and so do I) and I am so grateful for your help!