Davina Saber knew what it was like to be an outsider before founding a club to bring people together. Submitted photo

A Maricopa Girl Scout won the Gold Award for outstanding community service and creating sustainable change in the city of Maricopa.

Maricopa High School junior Davina Saber was recognized by the Girl Scouts of Arizona-Cactus Pine for founding the Multicultural Club at school, providing a space for foreign exchange students to grow accustomed in American high school for the year while also allowing American students to learn about other cultures.

“Multicultural club is for anybody who wants to join,” Davina said. “We are for everyone; you don’t have to be an outsider. If you just want to learn new things about people, or if you want to learn new things about yourself, you are 110% completely welcome to join.”

Including Davina, 33 Girl Scouts won their Gold Award this year, and 33 Girl Scouts will not receive the traditional recognition ceremony because of the COVID-19 outbreak.

“I was honestly disappointed.” Davina said. “My best friend, she’s in the same troop as me, she got a Gold Award as well, and I was really excited for us to be able to go at the same time and celebrate it together, and seeing the different projects girls across the state in our district got to work on – I was definitely disappointed. I hope we can reschedule it.”

According to Vianca Navarete, spokesperson for the Arizona Cactus-Pine Girl Scouts, the Gold Award is the highest award a Girl Scout can receive, and not many members receive one.

“It’s a very competitive number,” Navarete said. “The important piece to the Gold Award is finding a sustainable solution to a problem they can measure their impact in.”

A prerequisite for the Gold Award is the earning of the Bronze Award and the Silver Award. All three awards come with their own age requirement and steps to creating lasting change in society. To earn a Gold Award, a girl scout must identify a community issue, investigate the issue, build a team to support their effort, create a plan of action, present the plan to a committee, carry out the plan, and leave a sustainable change in the community.

Submitted photo

In Davina’s case, she identified an issue in inclusivity. Being the new kid in a school filled with students who’ve all grown up together, Davina said she felt alone. Davina’s first friends were students who shared her loneliness – new foreign exchange students. This is what pushed Davina to start the Multicultural Club at the high school.

“I never wanted to be the kid that wanted to help somebody but didn’t get the chance to,” Davina said. “I always try to help everybody because I know what it feels like to be alone, I know what it feels like to think that you’re alone, I know what it feels like be the outsider and I never want anybody to feel that way.”

Davina expects the club to continue long after she graduates, establishing a cabinet in the club made up of a president (Davina), vice president (Lluvia Luna, a sophomore at MHS), and sponsor (Alana Miller, language arts teacher at MHS). The club is expected to sustain itself and continue assisting foreign exchange students and teaching all students about different cultures.

Davina said many exchange students have found the confidence to try out for sports teams at the school and join multiple clubs after walking through the doors of the Multicultural Club.

“Everybody knew them,” Davina said. “One person joined the tennis team, another was in multiple clubs, and they were all so smart and so bright, and I’m so extremely proud of them for being involved and knowing as many people as they did.”

The multicultural club was one of the first aspects of society hit with adjustments once the COVID-19 pandemic began. All foreign exchange students were sent to their home countries right away, as early as March, according to Davina.

“They left, and it was definitely a sad time,” Davina said. “We weren’t ready, and I’m so beyond glad that they had such a great time in America. They weren’t ready to leave, but they really had to go home, and I really respect that. I’m glad they’re staying safe; I just wasn’t ready for them to go home either.”

With the closing of the high school during the pandemic, the multicultural club is on pause along with other typical school activities. Even so, Davina sees a bright future for the club once school is back in session.

Davina said the club started as a safe space to help foreign exchange students get accustomed to American culture and society but has expanded to welcoming and encouraging anyone willing to learn about different cultures around the world.

Girl Scouts nationwide have been particularly affected by COVID-19. Troop meetings have moved on to a virtual setting, and many community projects and volunteer work has been put on hold to follow Center for Disease Control social distancing guidelines. In Arizona’s northern and central district, 33 girl scouts lost their ceremony to recognize them for their highest Girl Scout award – including Davina.

“That’s something that’s really beautiful about Girl Scouts,” Navarete said. “We have a record of being resilient and coming together in times like these. We’ve really been adapting to change, and I think that’s really part of the Girl Scout values that create. We’re adaptable and handle things well in a crisis.”

Davina plans to enlist in the U.S. Air Force either before or after college. Davina said her mother is her inspiration for her to help others, and she plans to continue helping others for as long as she can.