A trainee solicitor from the Braes set the bar high after spreading the word about Girlguides on a brief visit to a former Soviet state.
Emma Guthrie, from Shieldhill, has just returned from a three-week trip to Armenia with five other leaders when they trained young girls in new Guiding skills.
The 23-year-old, who is training to become a lawyer with Edinburgh firm Shepherd and Wedderburn LLP, said: “It’s an amazing country, one I never expected I would ever visit. We spent a lot of time in the capital Yerevan and went out to a mixture of towns and rural places. In many ways we are very similar, particularly the stuff we do through the Guides, but the women there were quite surprised at the independence we, as young women, have.
“I think that’s something the Guides is helping them with, which is an amazing thing because there aren’t a lot of things just for women in Armenia.”
Former Braes High School pupil Emma has been in the Girlguides since she was seven and is now the assistant leader of the 1st Shieldhill Guides and leader of the 1st Braes Senior Section for girls aged 14-26.
She was in Armenia on the Guiding Overseas Linked with Development (GOLD) scheme organising training sessions for Armenian leaders and encouraging young Brownie and Guide-aged girls to join local groups. Part of the trip included a camping trip.
The once-in-a-lifetime adventure has now whetted her appetite for more travel to explore other cultures.
“The people are really friendly, kind and helpful and I have made some friends for life. We’re keeping in touch through Facebook. They’re very big on Facebook in Armenia. Camping with them for a week gave me the opportunity to really find out about their lives, culture and explore their language. In future I would like to explore other countries in a similar way to get a real connection to the country.”
While Guiding trips are designed to be challenging to build character, some are harder than others as Emma found out when she returned home.
She added: “When we got back we did an evaluation with other leaders who were in other countries like Guyana. So while I was moaning about toilet facilities and no shower when we were camping, the other girls had to deal with big cockroaches and snakes, so I think I had a touch of luxury in comparison.”