Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Practice Makes Permanent - The Key to Success

You've heard the motto  "Practice make Perfect" but in our household it was changed to "Practice Makes Permanent" - so says Parker Sutton.  A phrase that I actually kind of like.  Perfection can be over rated at times.  If I use this springboard phrase of his I can with great delight show you the strides that Benedicta, Emma, Gisele, Lucie, Marianne and Marie made over the course of a few months. Their enthusiasm is infectious. So - If You Are Happy And You Know It Clap Your Hands !!

Class dismissed !

On June 1st  all the young woman at the Foyer put together a farewell, thank you luncheon for all the volunteers who had spent this last year taking the time teaching them child care, French, cooking, embroidery, mathematics and yes - even English ;+}

Singing Songs of  "Thanks"
It was a lovely affair as the young woman showed off their talented food preparation, cooking and serving skills as though they were ready to start a new job in the hotel, restaurant industry or even a bonne/nanny for a future family.

Lucie - on of our girls
and Marianne

After enjoying the buffet and dessert we were each presented with beautifully embroidered apron that will forever remind us of the young women of Le Foyer. Maybe some of their cooking finesse will rub off on me!!  And of course you can't leave the room until you getup and dance along with them. 

After the excitement of the event wound down and most of the volunteers slipped away - it was Dorothy's and my turn to take a moment to recognize our 6 young woman and their achievements.  We wanted to present our token of appreciation to the girls for working hard (yet having fun) with us as we lead them down a path of English learning.

Dorothy designs and creates jewelry - I had this idea of something simple and unique to give them to remember us by and somehow involving a key.  The "key" being a symbol of opening the door to ones imagination and all the possibilities on the other side.
Photo: My friend, Hilary, and I volunteer and teach English to six amazing young Senegalese women at la Pouponnière,, here in Dakar.
Tomorrow is our last class.  The volunteers will be given a farewell luncheon and Hilary and I will present our token of appreciation to the girls for putting up with us and working hard to conquer the English language.
If all goes as planned the girls will sing “We Are The World”, by Michael Jackson, for the entire audience…in English…let’s keep our fingers crossed.
Hilary had this great idea of making something for the girls and since I make jewelry I said I would put something unique together.  Hilary felt that a “key” is a symbol of opening the door to ones imagination and all the possibilities on the other side. Hilary’s words of wisdom to the girls is: “You must open and enter with courage and confidence.” 
My words of wisdom to the girls will be: “Just keep putting one foot in front of the other and you’ll eventually get there.”
So with uncut keys, some leather, and some old and new African beads I made them each a little treasure to remember there English classes with Hilary and Dorothy.

Dorthy using her own creative juices combining leather cording, uncut keys and old and new African beads (which she has gazillions of that are oh so mouth watering) came up with 7 unique designs. One for each girl and for Sister Charito.

In attempting to hold my emotions in check - but yes a tear or two was shed, we presented each one with a certificate of achievement and their keepsake "collier"


Included in the bag - was not only their individual key but also a CD of various American music as well as every song we taught and learned to sing in class.

Our words of wisdom to these young woman 
  •  “You must open and enter with courage and confidence.”  (Hilary)
  •   “Just keep putting one foot in front of the other and you’ll eventually get there.” (Dorothy)
“Some people come into our lives and quickly go. Some people move our souls to dance. They awaken us to a new understanding with the passing whisper of their wisdom. Some people make the sky more beautiful to gaze upon. They stay in our lives for awhile, leave footprints on our hearts, and we are never, ever the same.”
― Flavia 

Sister Charito - Thank you for the courage and confidence you had in me to step up to the task.  And for your kindness that shines so brightly.

Benedicta, Emma, Marie, Gisele, Lucie,  and Marianne - Jerejef, Merci and Thank You for touching my heart in ways I could have never imagined. You welcomed me with your "teranga" and made the journey of teaching a memorable one. I was always full of energy and exhaustion when I returned home on Friday's. But I always slept well.



  1. I'm choked up seeing this, Hilary. You are really something! ANd what special girls and colleagues too.

    1. Janet - thank you. Lots of living and learning sure went on for everyone. I guess there is something to the Nike motto "Just Do It!". I hope I can some how keep tabs on these young woman. Or return for a surprise visit one day in the future where ever they may be working. I hope also I can bring back the same energy and enthusiasm and find a niche of this kind of volunteer work back in my home town. It would be nice not to loose the momentum of "volunteerism".