Princess Hjh Rashidah graces 'Sharing Cultures 2011' closing ceremony
By Ishan Ibrahim

The five-day programme, "Sharing Cultures 2011 Brunei Darussalam" culminated on Monday, as the closing ceremony was played out at the Orchid Garden Hotel in Berakas.

The series of activities saw a gathering of 117 participants from girl guide and girl scout associations from Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Thailand, the Philippines, Singapore, Andalusia and Brunei, to interact, share experiences, exchange views and acquire knowledge among members of the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS).

The concluding event was attended by the guest of honour, HRH Princess Hajah Rashidah Sa'adatul Bolkiah, the President of the Brunei Darussalam Girl Guides Association.

Upon arrival, HRH Princess Hajah Rashidah was welcomed by the Chief Commissioner of Brunei Darussalam Girl Guides Association, Dayang Hajah Siti Hafsah binti Haji Abdul Halim.

In her Sabda, HRH Princess Hajah Rashidah said that the concept behind "Sharing Cultures" extends beyond normal expectations. She said these include efforts amongst the communities in the participating countries "that seek to enrich and strengthen each other's cultural heritage", whilst developing projects that gives encouragement to youths and thus revitalising their respective communities by educating them in areas like environmental awareness, healthy nutrition and recycling. This will provide an opportunity, she said, to "give back to the communities that have nurtured us and allow our members to play a positive role in caring for people throughout the region".

She reminded everyone that the vision for the Asia-Pacific region is for members of all ages to actively participate in and enjoy the international aspects of 'girl guiding' and 'girl scouting' through programmes for cultural exchange.

She also expressed her confidence that cross-cultural initiatives will continue to be at the forefront of WAGGGS activities across the Asia-Pacific, as members continue to learn from each other and truly appreciates the diversity of cultures.

HRH Princess Hajah Rashidah further added that they should encourage greater participation of young people by showing them that 'girl guiding' and 'girl scouting' has tangible benefits as a form of informal education that strengthens their social, personal and physical development.

Meanwhile in her opening remarks, Deputy Chief Commissioner of the Brunei Darussalam Girl Guides Association, Hjh Viviyanti binti Hj Ali said organising this event has been a worthwhile challenge as members work collectively as a team and showing commendable resilience.

She pointed out that even though "Sharing Cultures 2011" has concluded, it should mean the beginning of lasting friendships, with mutual respects for each others' values and beliefs and to make the world a better place.

Distinguished guests at the ceremony included Life Vice-Presidents of Brunei Darussalam Girl Guides Association, Datin Paduka Hjh Zaharah binti Hj Idris and Datin Hjh Masni binti Hj Md Ali, and members of its administrative board.

Fifty-two members from WAGGGS along with 65 local participants took part in the five-day programme.

A speech was also made by "Sharing Cultures 2011" representative, Hasna Alsagoff, as Head of the Singapore delegation during the event, in which she briefly pointed out their collective experiences in the programme.

In significance of participation in the programme, the heads of the respective delegation received certificates presented by HRH Princess Hajah Rashidah.

HRH Princess Hajah Rashidah was later presented 'Pesambah' from the heads of the respective delegation.

The ceremony concluded with a dance performance by the participants.

Founded in 1951, the Brunei Darussalam Girl Guides Association became a full member of the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS) in 1996. Some of their past achievements included a fundraising Walk for Peace for the International Day of Peace in 2006 and raising money for the Yogjakarta earthquake appeal. - Borneo Bulletin (6th December 2011)