HANNA CHUANG has done some­thing no other USA Girl Scout in Sin­ga­pore has ever done. In fact, she’s done some­thing no other USA Girl Scout liv­ing out­side of the States has ever done. She’s been named a Na­tional Young Woman of Dis­tinc­tion (NYWOD).

Expat Living (Singapore) - - Life & Family -

What ex­actly is a NYWOD? It’s an hon­our awarded to only ten reg­is­tered USA Girl Scouts ev­ery year. That’s ten young women out of nearly two mil­lion! The hon­ours are given to USA Girl Scout Se­niors and Ambassadors whose Gold Award projects have demon­strated ex­tra­or­di­nary lead­er­ship, had a mea­sur­able and sus­tain­able im­pact, and ad­dressed a lo­cal chal­lenge re­lated to a na­tional or global is­sue.

Hanna was search­ing for an idea for her Gold Award when her friend Gaby Hun­gate came back from a va­ca­tion in Bhutan with an idea: she wanted to help pro­vide ed­u­ca­tional op­por­tu­ni­ties for women and chil­dren in that small Bud­dhist king­dom on the eastern edge of the Hi­malayas. Hanna’s ex­pe­ri­ence in Girl Scouts proved use­ful as the two of them de­signed a plan and put it into ac­tion. To­gether, they co-founded a Ru­ral Ed­u­ca­tion and Devel­op­ment (READ) ser­vice club at the Sin­ga­pore Amer­i­can School (SAS) to help fundraise and in­crease aware­ness of the READ Global pro­gramme in Bhutan.

Thanks to their project, a READ Bhutan cen­tre was opened in the vil­lage of Yangth­ang, reach­ing 12,000 lo­cal peo­ple. The cen­tre is more than just a build­ing: it’s a safe place for women and girls to go to use com­put­ers, gain busi­ness skills, study the road to fi­nan­cial in­de­pen­dence, learn English and more. The ser­vice club at SAS will con­tinue to help pro­vide re­sources to READ Bhutan; this means that the project is sus­tain­able – a re­quire­ment of the Gold Award.

Hanna says liv­ing in Sin­ga­pore prob­a­bly made this eas­ier to achieve than if she lived else­where. “By be­ing here, my project, the ser­vice club, and the or­gan­i­sa­tion (READ) had ex­po­sure to a very special type of au­di­ence. There’s a huge ex­pat com­mu­nity in Sin­ga­pore, and the pop­u­la­tion in gen­eral is very glob­ally minded. Thanks to this mind set, the peo­ple I reached out to for help with my project were very re­cep­tive to the idea of as­sist­ing women and chil­dren they’d never met, in a dif­fer­ent coun­try a cou­ple of thou­sand miles away.” Hanna’s Girl Scout Leader for a few years was her mother, Amy Chou. Amy al­ways ad­mired her daugh­ter’s pas­sion and drive, but didn’t ex­pect her to be­come a NYWOD. “When we got the phone call, we were just blown away. Never in a mil­lion years do you imag­ine your own daugh­ter would be recog­nised like this. We’re in­cred­i­bly proud.” A Tai­wanese- Amer­i­can, Hanna grad­u­ated from SAS in June 2016 and at­tends the Univer­sity of South­ern Cal­i­for­nia, ma­jor­ing in Health Pro­mo­tion and Dis­ease Pre­ven­tion; she has her eye on med­i­cal school. “My in­volve­ment in Girl Scouts is 100 per­cent why I’m pur­su­ing the path I am. I first joined in third grade and, along the way, I gath­ered lit­tle bits of in­spi­ra­tion and a pas­sion for ser­vice. For me, medicine is not about sci­ence but about help­ing peo­ple.”

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