On Sunday February 21st of this year, we hosted the inaugural public showing of the girls’ Words of Wisdom art and literature project at Café Zoe in Menlo Park. Over one hundred parents, family members, volunteers, donors, staff, and Board members attended. Each of our participating girls had posted a framed, large-format version of her choice among the project-related digital photos which she’d taken, along with a mounted & printed statement which she’d written exploring the subject of ‘wisdom’ and featuring a particular quotation which she’d selected from statements made by family members, noted public figures, or others. Each girl introduced and summarized her installation, and her process involved in creating it.
The impact on attendees was palpable, and parents seemed particularly moved by the event. One mother was holding back tears while she observed how valuable it was that our programming didn’t confine itself merely to the imperatives of academic support (as important as those are), but broadened developmental opportunities for girls to include activities in the arts.
Manuela, one of our 9 year old participants, had been petrified at the prospect of having to stand before more than one hundred people and deliver her presentation. With a little calming-down and coaching from staff member Kristyn Crouse however, Manuela gathered her resources and surprised everyone – not least herself, we believe – by delivering a very articulate and forthright explanation of her project for one so young and unused to public speaking.
Finally, we observed that the event brought together parents and other family members who aren’t always willing to be under the same roof together, on behalf of their girls. We could see how thrilled more than one of these girls were to have both of their parents and extended families present to acknowledge them and the hard work which they’d put into their Words of Wisdom projects. Thanks again to OWCF for making this possible.