This week I’m highlighting another organization I volunteer for – Big Sisters of Canada — Big Sisters of BC Lower Mainland division.
From their website, “Big Sisters is committed to enhancing the confidence, self-esteem and well-being of girls through supportive relationships with female mentors.”
For years, my partner and I were nomadic creatures, moving from place to place every few years. It was because of this lifestyle that I didn’t get involved with the Big Sisters organization sooner. I felt it was important to be able to commit to a young girl who may not have had a lot of stability in her life.
When we moved to BC, I was surprised to learn that in addition to the general mentoring program of Big Sister-Little Sister, they also have an educational component, Study Buddy-Little Sister. Being a Study Buddy is about helping a young girl through challenges in school and focuses on that aspect while being a Big Sister can tend to be more about doing extracurricular activities. Both provide a wonderful mentorship for young girls.
Becoming a Study Buddy helped me to achieve two of my volunteering goals: Put my skills that I learned as an ESL teacher to good use as well as support a new Canadian family. Having lived abroad in a number of places, we had always been so lucky with the kindness people of different countries showed us. I know that feel of being in a new place, trying to fit in and still hold onto the important traditions of my home country.
I was matched with a young girl whose family moved from China within the last couple of years. Both parents are hardworking, educated professionals trying to make their way with their four children along for the ride. I love being able to support my Little Sister in her studies, with her English and generally helping her navigate through this new world called Canada.
My Little Sister and I have been matched for 17 months and I can say it’s been such a rewarding experience for me. She makes me laugh. She teaches me things. She amazes me with her bravery to put herself out there, an English language learner, stepping outside her comfort zone, sometimes cautiously looking to me when we’re out in public for guidance but inevitably taking the steps on her own.
I feel lucky to have her in my life. And, watching how much her confidence has grown since I first met her makes me feel even more dedicated this organization.
I urge you to really assess the hours you have in your week. One evening a week with a young girl can make a lifetime of difference, both in your world and in hers.