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Germantown Girls Learn the Finer Points of Grace From African Royalty

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In a weekend that was one part training for American’s Next Top Model and one part society luncheon, a group of girls from Germantown Elementary and Roberto Clemente Middle Schools were exposed to the more genteel parts of life.

Princess Esther Kamatari of Burundi came to Germantown to mentor young girls from area in how to master the princess attitude. The girls ranging in age from 10 to 16 are part of the Germantown GEMS program, which mentors girls to become polished young women as part of The Links, Inc., an organization of women committed to enriching, sustaining and ensuring the culture and economic survival of African Americans and other persons of African ancestry

Principal Amy Bryant of Germantown Elementary is a member of the Links, Inc., Patuxent River (MD) Chapter and helped facilitate bringing Princess Esther to Germantown. “As a result of our partnership with the Links, Inc., we were able to invite the Princess to little Germantown Elementary School,” said Bryant. “We are quite honored to have her here working with our young girls to help them become well-rounded young ladies.”

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Born in 1951, Princess Esther Kamatari grew up in Burindi as a member of the royal family, until the king was overthrown as part of a coup d’etat in 1962. In 1970, at the age of 19, she left the country after several members of the royal family were assassinated, including her father, brother of then-King Mwambutsa IV. She settled in Paris and became France’s first African supermodel, working with designers such as Christian Dior and Yves Saint Laurent. She remains a spokesmodel for Guerlain perfume.

Princess Esther met with the girls in the GEMS program at Germantown Elementary School on Saturday, May 16 , where she along with the assistance of her friend and former model Christine Xi, conduct a workshop designed to help the girls better understand the importance of posture, grace, and proper manners. The Princess gave each of the girls a gift back from Guerlain.

Barbara McKee, chair of the international trends and services committee for The Links, Inc., is a personal friend of the princess. “I asked her to come to talk to the girls about how to carry themselves so that they can be successful, because the way you present yourself helps you as you go through life. She is teaching them this weekend how to have a conversation with their body, so they know how to present themselves. How to look. How stand. How walk. How to sit. How to open doors. How to introduce themselves. She is a global personality. We are bringing an international personality to expose these girls to a figure who has the kind of worldwide experience that can excite them, most little girls know about princesses, however there are very few women of color who are royalty. We wanted to show them royalty.”

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Princess Esther instructed the girls on how to carry themselves as a model would with proper posture. The girls could be seen walking with graceful strides and straight backs and chins held high.

“This is really cool,” said Germantown fifth grade student Brenda De La Flor. “She is giving us experience and teaching us how to walk, how to have the proper attitude, and how to be elegant. She is very nice and very pretty. She’s amazing.”

The second part of the weekend’s activities was a luncheon reception at the William F. Bolger Center in Potomac, which was held on Sunday afternoon. “There we will have the conversation with Princess Esther,” said McKee. “This will also show the girls a more formal activity. It will show the girls what it is like to be in more gentle company. It will give the girls a sense of decorum in a real world setting.”

“It is a great opportunity to get to do all this with the Princess,” said Morgan Taylor, a student at Roberto Clemente Middle School, “to have better manners and better posture. We will look better when we go places and we can present ourselves better. It is really nice of her to come from Paris just to do this for us. After doing this I will feel more comfortable going to into more formal situations.”


Top: Princess Esther Kamatari, former supermodel and princess in exile, leads Germantown girls in an exercise to improve posture.

Next: Princess Esther teaches the girls how to properly walk like a lady.

Next: Princess Esther escorts Roberto Clemente Middle School student Morgan Taylor as part of the mentoring program to help girls master the princess attitude.

Photos by Germantown Pulse.


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