We’re thrilled to launch our new series, “My Girl Scout Story,” with Dee Cheng, a recent alumna, who still has wonderful Girl Scout memories to share! Take it away, Dee!
My Girl Scout Story
Have you ever been in a situation where you didn’t want it to end?
Then perhaps you understand just how I felt my senior year of high school. It was my last year of Girl Scouts and I was apprehensive to be leaving a community I considered my home. For 10 years of my life, I was a part of an organization that supported me and provided me with a platform to grow, to explore, and to lead.
I was not afraid to take charge. I was not afraid to voice my opinions and follow my heart. I had the passion and motivation to make a change, but it wasn’t always that way. As a little girl I dreamed of making a difference in this world, and having an impact in my own, unique way, but I constantly found myself thinking, how? What is my purpose and will I be successful? Can I actually do it?
That’s what I was thinking my first cookie season as a Brownie, ready to go door-to-door. I was nervous; I did not know how to approach people or what to say. We were partnered up girls only a few years older than us, and they were so poised and confident, energized and outgoing,. Their charisma was so captivating and I loved how they encouraged us and took us under their wing. These were also the same girls I saw at camp, who taught me girl scout traditions and encouraged me to become a leader. I wasn’t sure about a lot of things back then, but I knew I wanted to follow in their footsteps. But how? Could I really possibly become a leader like them?
Throughout the years, Girl Scouts did not fail to deliver opportunity after opportunity, and the more I experienced, the more confidence I gained. I grew as a daughter, a student, a friend, and a scout. Before I knew it, I was showing younger girls how to sell cookies. I was the one leading songs at camp. I was the one completing large scale projects and taking action within the community. I was the one being asked to speak at events, to share my experience, and to tell younger girls that yes, they can do it too. And I was very convincing because I finally knew the answer to the questions I had asked myself so many times as a young girl. I can do it, too! I can be a leader, and I can make a difference.
I know it because I have actual proof!
One day I was at the grocery store, when I suddenly heard a little girl yelling, “Taffy, taffy!” My camp name is Taffy, but I didn’t make the connection and just thought that girl wanted some candy. Next thing I knew she was running up to me a gave me a big hug. She started talking all at once, out of breath, telling me how much she loved camp and thanking me for teaching her songs and campfire safety. “Thank you so much Taffy, I had so much fun!” she said. “I loved learning and I hope one day I can be like you.” I stood there in shock, not realizing how my actions have really made a difference. When I became an older girl scout, I was constantly looking for avenues where I can make an impact, and yet it was happening right before my eyes.
At the time, I didn’t understand the impact this organization would have on me, but looking back I would not even be half the person I am today without it. Now, trying to figure out the next stage of my life, I constantly question, can I do it? Can I really make a difference? I find my head and my heart pulling me in the direction of technology. I want to make a difference globally, and create equal accessibility and opportunity for those who need it most. The path to get there feels daunting at times, just like it was daunting for 8-year-old me to sell cookies and be a leader at camp. I sometimes doubt I won’t be good enough to make a change, but then I remember the last ten years, and I remember the girl at the grocery store.
And I remember because I’m writing this story now, all because I am a product of an organization that changes lives, including mine. And it gave me the confidence to go out into the world and do the same. So whether it’s using technology to create something that will make people’s lives better, or continuing to be a mentor to others, I know that I can do anything. Girl Scouts taught me that.