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Gold Award Girl Scout works to lessen cultural misunderstandings

Gold Award Website - Nikhitha Arumugam

Nikhitha Arumugam of Salem earns Girl Scouting’s highest honor for Around the World

SALEM, NH – As a brown-skinned person in a predominantly white school community, Nikhitha Arumugam has had her run-ins with prejudice and misunderstandings. Feeling passionate about the need for people to understand other cultures and heal the divisions in society, she created a program to educate children about diverse people and countries. Her “Around the World” curriculum, website, and blog is helping to change the world for the better.

Nikhitha, 17, of Salem is now a Gold Award Girl Scout, earning Girl Scouting’s highest honor for those in grades 9-12, in recognition of her work.

“She put together great lessons/programs for a variety of countries/cultures for a group of interested and engaged elementary students,” said Maureen Fabrizio, her project advisor and guidance counselor at Salem High School. “I think it was well-received by the school staff, the parents and especially the students. I believe it had an impact on all by developing understanding, acceptance and educational curiosity about other places and cultures in the world.”

In her curriculum, Nikhitha arranged for four presentations to fourth- and fifth-graders at Lancaster Elementary School on the countries of Italy, Pakistan, Liberia, and the Philippines. She brought in speakers who could represent those cultures so they could talk of first-hand experience with the language, food, culture, and more.

“I realized if more kids had an opportunity to explore places around the world, to learn about it, to realize just how amazing it is, to be from another place, perhaps the little racism that stems from being a kid, that would lessen,” she said. “And instead, people would be more interested in learning about other cultures, rather than just sticking to their stereotypes.”

The students met four time over two weeks as part of an after-school club. They played games, did crafts, and tried snacks from the different countries. Nikhitha and her sisters and presents also demonstrated how henna designs are applied.

She had to sharpen her organizational and team-building skills to successfully complete her goal, and learned a lot.

“The biggest lesson I learned was that it’s really daunting to think about you as a person trying to make change in any situation. But once you take a step, and just try to make change, you realize it’s not nearly as daunting as it seems,” she said. “But finishing it makes me realize that the end result is that you could possibly change people’s mindsets for a long long time. And that’s always worth giving a try. And you’re a lot more capable than you realize.”

She gave credit to the many people on her team, including her advisor, Maureen Fabrizio; troop leader Ginger Quinby, Rachel Barrett, Ali Blakeslee, Grace Kahn, Mazai Bowah, and Brenden Cayabyab for making the presentations work well. [A1]

Nikhitha started in Girl Scouts as a Cadette in sixth grade, joining Troop 11041 to be part of an academically inclined group of Girl Scouts. She’s enjoyed the sisterhood, friendship, and activities like Secret Santas, outings to an escape room, selling Girl Scout Cookies, and more. She recommends going for Girl Scouting’s highest honors, saying it gave her a sense of accomplishment.

This senior at Salem High School is currently living in Hamburg, Germany, as part of a student exchange program, and has earned scholarships to help with that experience, along with being included in the National Honor Society, French Honor Society, an AP scholar, and the high school’s Academic Excellence Award for peer tutoring.

She is applying to colleges and figuring out how to best direct her life, possibly in law, medicine, business, or psychology.

“I do know that in my future, I definitely want to do something that helps people,” she said. “Not necessarily the most direct way, like being a doctor would. But some sort of career where I can aid the community in any way possible.”

Earning the Gold Award has also influenced her considerations.

“Because my Gold Award was so focused on culture, that is definitely something I want to carry into my future,” she said. “I do want to study abroad again. That’s why I’m studying abroad in the first place in Germany. The Gold Award – teaching others about cultures is a big passion of mine.”

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Gold Award Girl Scouts don’t just change the world for the better, they change it for good. The Gold Award is earned by girls in grades 9–12 who demonstrate extraordinary leadership in developing sustainable solutions to local, national, and global challenges. Since 1912, Girl Scouts have answered the call to drive lasting, impactful change. They earn college scholarships, demonstrate high educational and career outcomes, and are active in their communities.

Nikhitha Arumugam has answered the call to drive lasting, impactful change, and her Gold Award is a testament to her remarkable dedication to improving her community and the world.

About the Girl Scout Gold Award

  • Gold Award Girl Scouts on average spend one to two years on their project.
  • A Gold Award project must be sustainable after the girl’s involvement ends.
  • The average age of Gold Award Girl Scouts is 17.
  • Since 1916, more than 1 million girls have earned the Gold Award or its equivalent.
  • Gold Award Girl Scouts are entitled to enlist at a higher pay grade when they join the military.
  • University research indicates that noting you are a Gold Award Girl Scout on a college application is influential in the admissions decision-making process.
  • Thirty young women from New Hampshire and Vermont earned their Gold Award in the 2021-2022 membership year as part of Girl Scouts of the Green and White Mountains.
  • The Girl Scout Gold Award is the mark of the truly remarkable.

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Girl Scouts bring their dreams to life and work together to build a better world. Through programs from coast to coast, Girl Scouts of all backgrounds and abilities can be unapologetically themselves as they discover their strengths and rise to meet new challenges—whether they want to climb to the top of a tree or the top of their class, lace up their boots for a hike or advocate for climate justice, or make their first best friends. Backed by trusted adult volunteers, mentors, and millions of alums, Girl Scouts lead the way as they find their voices and make changes that affect the issues most important to them. To join us, volunteer, reconnect, or donate, visit 

Girl Scouts of the Green and White Mountains serves girls throughout New Hampshire and Vermont through volunteer-run troops, events, and virtual programs. Visit to learn more.