In August 2014, Virginia traveled to Nicaragua on a mission trip. While there, she noticed the communication difficulties between the American volunteers and the Nicaraguans. She took note of the specific situations where language difference created barriers, as well as what sorts of information people were trying to communicate. For her Gold Award project, Virginia created translation and communication tools that were used on her next mission trip to Nicaragua in August 2015.
Prior to leaving for Nicaragua, Virginia gave her fellow volunteers laminated study guides with translations for conversation starters, greetings and work-site specific words. She also created laminated signs and translation booklets for volunteers to carry with them throughout the trip. Once she arrived in Nicaragua, she provided the same translation booklets to the Spanish-speakers.
“The most successful aspect of my project was seeing the volunteers and Nicaraguans working together and using the booklets I provided to engage with one another,” Virginia said. “I had anticipated the usefulness of the translation booklets for the American volunteers and was deeply moved to see the enthusiasm of the Nicaraguan workers while learning English.”
The Gold Award requires girls to identify an issue in their community and carry out a Take Action project to address the matter through leadership work. Nationwide, less than 6 percent of eligible Girl Scouts earn the Gold Award, which adds Virginia to an elite group of female leaders across the country with the honor.