A Life Changing Experience: Browngirl Village 2016

Have you ever been a part of something that was so much bigger than you? That was my experience as the Host of the 2016 Browngirl Village retreat in Baltimore, MD. I have always had a desire to give back to young women, but I never imagined how much they would give me. Browngirl Village is a one day retreat for brown girls ages 12-17. The event teaches encouragement, motivation, etiquette, and embracing the beautiful you.

Hosting Browngirl Village 2016 opened my eyes to see a glimpse of my purpose. The event was a total success. It was located at the Four Season Hotel in Baltimore, MD. It was a rainy day, although it did not affect the turn out. We had roughly 150 girls at the retreat this year. They arrived bright and early to be a part of history. DJ Beauty & The Beatz opened up our day. This young phenomenon had the crowd to their feet and dancing early in the morning. We learned that it was her birthday and she was only turning 15 years old! I couldn’t believe it. Someone so talented and professional was only 15 years old. When she shared her age and story with the young ladies they were in awe. She set the tone for what was to come.

Throughout the day we had some amazing men and women come and speak to the girls. The speakers included actress and vocalist China McClaine, Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, Senator Catherine Pugh, recording artist Brave, Beauty expert Maisie Dunbar, actress Cyrene Tankard, and so many more. The girls were able to partake in a question & answer session and they were engaged. We also had an etiquette lunch where the girls learned formal dining.

I had the pleasure of interviewing our special guest China McClain from Disney’s the Ant Farm and Tyler Perry’s The house of Payne. China was inspiring. She took her time to make sure the girls could ask her anything they wanted, with no limitations. She took her time giving out advice and taking pictures with everyone. She enjoyed the experience just as much as they did. She was one of the highlights of the day.

As we concluded, I had several of the girls come up to me and ask advice, for pictures, and hugs. It was life changing. I honestly didn’t know why they were interested in me with all the greatness in the room. I was able to share my story with them throughout the day and give advice. I honestly didn’t know how much it made an impact. I am so grateful for the experience and I cannot thank Sharon Page, director of Browngirl Village, enough for the opportunity.

I am going to do all I can to bring it to Atlanta. Stay tuned. 

Maria Wills