Hilary Brown

Hilary is an inquisitive learner, an understated leader and a dedicated community volunteer. After a successful campaign to convince her parents, Hilary raised and trained two guide dogs for blind fellow residents through her work with Guide Puppies of Seattle. The dogs were a full-time job, even attending school at Hilary's side. As a weekly volunteer at Seattle Children's Hospital, Hilary further witnessed the direct, immediate impact of her energy. Hilary also surpassed her own physical barriers, pursuing her passion for dance despite severe scoliosis. According to a teacher, Hilary, "strives to have a lifetime of understanding and to fulfill her own intellectual curiosity" and is deeply interested in science and the environment.


My Year not in College

September 2009, 32,000 ft in the air I was 6,137 miles from home headed for the western tip of Africa. I could have stuck with my peers, as many advised sitting in a college classroom on U.S. soil. But now, eight months later, no one questions what they then might have thought of as my…

07 August, 2010

Diverging Personalities

Round, giggly, and full of life, my host mother is a real character. Her two daughters describe her as cheerful and kind to everyone. While this is true, figuring out how to spend so much time with her without, frankly, going crazy has been very difficult and involved much frustration for me. As the woman…

01 April, 2010

Food Appreciation

During the U.S. training institute we did an exercise to replicate the food distribution throughout the world. For dinner one night only two people eat the usual full, healthy IONS meal. The rest either had a bowl of beans and rice; just rice or in the case of one person a half portion of rice….

15 March, 2010

A Poignant Morning at the Maternite

Vaccinating infants, examining pregnant women, giving birth control, checking up on prostitutes and other activities related to reproductive health make up a usual day at the Sebikotane Maternite, where I have been an apprentice for the past four months. As I am not a medical student, my jobs are relatively simple: taking blood pressure, weighing…

10 March, 2010

Vampires and Sorcerers

I first learned about my host family’s belief in the super natural when I asked my host father about the belts made of thick cord and string the family, and many other Senegalese, wear called gris-gris. I was told that the pouches attached to the belts contain plants and verses of the Quran to help…

18 February, 2010


A few nights ago, after accompanying Victoria to her host house, I walked the twenty minutes back on the route nationale with two Senegalese friends. While it was dark, it was only about eight thirty and we could see by the car lights streaming past us. Randomly, a shiny new truck pulled off the road….

01 February, 2010


Last week my region had our second training seminar with another region that we hadn’t seen for about five months. Catching up on our lives, I was frequently asked the question, So‰Û_ do you have friends in your community?” Along with many others

01 February, 2010

A Bride’s Moving Day

The Thursday after my debut as a Senegalese bridesmaid was the night when close family and friends accompany the bride to her husband’s home and involves much tradition and festivities. I arrived at the bride’s house just as she was being prepared to depart with a shower and two foulards (big pieces of fabric) wrapped…

10 January, 2010

Senegalese Bridesmaid

Last week I had the honor and surprise of being a bridesmaid in one of my Senegalese friend’s wedding. I first heard about the event a month ago when my friend was showing me, the new toubab, off to all her friends while giving them an oral invitation to the celebration. A few weeks later…

28 December, 2009

No Tudd?

I recently started one of my apprenticeships at Sebikotane’s Poste de Sante. For the World Day of Diabetes the health center set up a week of free testing for all the people of Sebikotane and the surrounding communities. My job was to write the names, ages, neighborhoods and blood sugar levels of the people being…

25 November, 2009

A Silent Death

This summer while house sitting for a good friend the fish died. Before the family returned my French exchange student and I spent a good fifteen minutes at the fist store determined to find a perfect replica so the children would not know the fish had died. We ended up not being very successful, however…

23 November, 2009


“We watch you on TV.” This was the first thing my eight year old host sister said to me. At first I thought I had not understood her broken French. Then I discovered I was the first white person she had met. Next, the mother pointed to the fan in the room I sleep in…

17 November, 2009

Fabric Frenzy

It was like entering a giant maze of fabric yesterday when we went to buy fabric for Tabaski, a big holiday at the end of November. Little stalls were squeezed together forming make shift streets and allies. Umbrellas and blankets were hung over head between the stalls giving the illusion that we were inside when we…

26 October, 2009

An Unexpected Event

Last night, after finishing my french homework and talking to Erin on skype, I left the Baobab Center around seven as usual. I walked back to the Corenthin house, trying to not fall in the brown river the street turned into after the rain and was just about to walk in, when I realized the…

25 October, 2009

Baobabs, Swimming and Thunder

Yesterday after language classes we took a field trip to i’ile de la Madeleine, an uninhabited island off the coast of Dakar. In order to get there we took what looked like a long row boat with a motor. Due to the rocky shore around most of the island we were taken into a little cove that, aside…

25 October, 2009

Awkward Moments

I turned the corner and all of the sudden there was a wall of backs in front of me. What in the world! I thought, what are all of these people doing? I had just finished lunch at my host house and was on my way back to the Baobab Center for a Wolof lesson….

13 October, 2009

En Ville

This morning all six fellows, along with two guides, piled into a Tata bus for an outing down town. And by bus I men a large van with about six rows of benches five seats across. We entered by jumping through a door in the back and folding down the middle seats to make our…

08 October, 2009

Culture Shock?

When the other fellows and I arrived in Dakar four days ago I had no expectations other than being over whelmed. Having never been to Africa I knew I would never have been able to imagine things such as the level of humidity and heat or the sheep that look like goats grazing in the…

05 October, 2009


Asking for money is not a skill that comes easily. In high school instead of selling a hundred dollars worth of chocolate like I was supposed to I often paid the school and gave the chocolate to my friends so I would not “bother” anyone. Therefore, the task of raising two thousand dollars for the…

03 September, 2009

Parlez-Vous en Anglais?

About three weeks ago I sat in the garden of a home nestled in the heart of a tiny French town. My ears buzzed as I struggled to piece together the jumble of words around me. I have enough trouble comprehending when my English speaking friends talk all at once so attempting to understand the…

30 July, 2009

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Hilary Brown