GREENFIELD — Prior to starting her latest Girl Scout World Thinking Day project, Savannah Fields had no idea just 11 percent of Iceland is actually ice.
It was just one of many fun facts the 10-year-old Eastern Hancock Elementary student and her troop members learned as they studied the Nordic island nation in preparation for World Thinking Day, conducted Sunday at the Hancock County Fairgrounds.
World Thinking Day is commemorated each February by Girl Scouts across the globe to honor their sister Scouts.
Locally, it’s been celebrated in Hancock County for at least 30 years.
Participating troops picked a country, researched it and presented what they learned to other Scouts and families who gathered for the event.
When Savannah and her fellow troop members chose Iceland, they realized they knew very little about the place.
“We thought it sounded really interesting, and we thought it was full of ice,” she said.
Most participants made a food or beverage from their countries, a surefire way to lure the crowd to their booth.
“It’s education, and there’s food here, which the girls love,” said Jennifer Warner, Girl Scout service unit co-chairperson.
Warner said the event serves not only the Girl Scouts but those who don’t know much about the Scouting program.
“It’s a good chance for the public to get introduced to Girl Scouts,” she said. “We don’t just sell cookies. We do other things, too.”
Girls who participate get a World Thinking Day patch for the back of their vests.
Egypt, Spain, France, Canada, Morocco, Germany and Mexico were some of the other countries represented.
Germany served gummy bears, and Kenya served mandazi, a treat similar to donuts.
The Girl Scouts representing China taught fellow scouts about the nation’s school system and its flag, which has a big star on it to represent communism.
Students in China attend school six days a week, as opposed to five days a week in the United States.
This year, each troop was challenged also to perform something representing the culture of their country.
The troop presenting Japan served sweet treats and told a story. Offering Pocky, a chocolate-coated biscuit stick, Troop 181 read a Japanese story and educated visitors about Japanese architecture and the nation’s Girl Scouts.
Anna Bernahardt, 9, said she spent a few weeks researching Japan for the project. She enjoyed learning about the country’s flowers, like the Cherry Blossom, most.
“I learned a lot,” she said. “I really liked the flowers. They’re pretty.”
The Girl Scouts managed their own booths and also took turns exploring others’ displays.
Sam Williams, 14, said her troop has been wanting to study Ireland for eight years. This year was the first time it wasn’t already picked.
“I’ve been wanting to do Ireland for a long time,” she said. “I mean, my family is Irish.”
The troop prepared potato leek soup accompanied by Irish soda bread. They educated visitors about the country’s four provinces, its currency and Irish Girl Scouts.
“It’s fun to learn about more countries than America,” Sam said.
Lindsay Fields, 16, and Paige Deal, 17, represented Costa Rica. Their troop chose the Central American country because Fields’ older sister visited it over the summer and is still talking about how beautiful of a place it is.
“It’s beautiful and fantastic, and the coffee is fantastic,” Fields said.
They served gallo pinto, the country’s signature black bean and rice dish, and coffee.
The pair has presented facts about many countries, including India, Mexico and Zimbabwe, over the years. They’ve been attending World Thinking Day since they were in kindergarten.
Although the countries are often repeated, the pair says there’s always something new to learn, and the food is always different.
“That’s one of my favorite parts,” Fields said. “It’s like a tour of the world in one day.”
The projects take several hours to complete, with troops finding the information at the library and on the Internet.
Choosing the country to represent can be based on general interest or a more personal reason.
Williams said her troop picked Ethiopia a few years ago because she has a cousin who was adopted from there.
The event is educational for Girl Scouts and families that attend. And for 30 years, it’s given families something free to do on a cold Sunday in February.
“It’s a great family thing to do,” Warner said. “Oftentimes, multiple members of a family are participating in some way.”
Her mother, Rita Trinkle, has been involved with the program for at least 25 years. She loves to watch children, parents and grandparents all come together to learn about other places in the world.
“It’s a family event,” she said. “You see … all kinds of people.”