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Girl Scouts set to host 'World Fair' Saturday

Thursday, March 9, 2006

SIKESTON -- Anyone wanting to take a peek into the lives of girls from around the world can do so by attending the Girl Scouts-Cotton Boll Area Council's "World's Fair" from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at the Tanner Street Church of God in Sikeston.

Approximately 300 girls from troops throughout the Cotton Boll's nine counties in Southeast Missouri have prepared booths and activities showcasing over 30 countries from around the world.

"Each year we do one big event for all the ages, and all the councils rotate where we have it and what it is," said April Isbell, communications director for Girl Scouts-Cotton Boll Area Council.

The event, which is open to the public, is also the kick-off for Girl Scout week, March 12-18, when Girl Scouts celebrate March 12, 1912, when Girl Scouting in the United States was founded.

"Each troop chose their country to research and found out what life is like for their fellow Girl Guides/Girl Scouts in that country," Isbell said. "In countries like Europe and China, they have Girl Guides instead of Girl Scouts."

Among countries to be exhibited Saturday are Australia, Brazil, Greece, France, Jamaica, Ireland, Mexico and New Zealand.

"Some are putting together games, dances, crafts or snacks from around their country," Isbell said.

Some have been working on booths since school started, Isbell said.

"Obviously some (booths) will be more elaborate than others because there are some first graders and some are high school students who are doing booths. So there will be varied levels of how in-depth something is," Isbell said.

Wende Pruden, leader of the 12 fifth grade-members in Junior Girl Scout Troop 37 in Sikeston, said Girl Scouts are sisters to every other Girl Scout. "World's Fair" gives the girls a chance to look beyond themselves and go on internationally, she said.

"We want our girls to think about what issues the girls are facing in those countries -- not the problems they're having in school but if they have to worry about having a certain food, education or terrorism," Pruden said.

Sometimes it's really hard to get the girls to focus because they don't want to think about whether someone goes to bed hungry or not, Pruden said.

Pruden's troop has been working on a booth about Spain over the past month or so.

"We've worked on computers, and we've done some signs and drawn some pictures," Pruden said.

The girls plan to offer sample foods from the Spanish culture such as tortillas, olives, peanuts, beans and citrus fruits.

"They've really enjoyed it," Pruden said. "I've split them into committees, and I've assigned each of them a different focus on one area," Pruden said. "I think they've learned a lot and had some fun."

Martha Neel, 11, a member of Pruden's troop, said she and her troop members plan to dress up like Spanish girls, complete with roses in their hair. Her mother is even making her a flamingo dress for Saturday, she said.

Martha's troop participated in a "Worlds Fair" held in Poplar Bluff a couple years ago, she recalled.

"I'm pretty excited because we get to teach other people about different countries. The first year I did it I was pretty nervous because I had never done it before and didn't know so many people were going to be there," Martha said, adding about 300 people attended.

Martha said her troop has been talking about Spanish Girl Scouts and learning what they do from information on the Internet.

"They speak different languages. They do different activities than we do. They get different badges. They dress differently. They wear poofy layered dresses," said Martha, who's on her troop's food committee.

The public is invited to attend the event for an admission fee of $1, which includes a "passport" for kids, which can be stamped at each "country" visited.

"You can go and hang out and do whatever you want," Martha said. "You can talk to troop leaders."

Half of the admission fees will go to the Juliette Low World Friendship Fund, which promotes international events for Girl Scouts. Last year a Girl Scout from Charleston was able to go to Honduras through the funds.

"I hope everyone comes out and supports the Scouts," Pruden said. "It's will be a great opportunity to see what the girls can do."