My name is Jacquelyn Arroyo. I am a Freshman at Bryn Mawr College and one of the six students volunteering in the Big Sisters Program.
I am more than honoured to be a mentor for third- and fourth-grade girls at Willard Elementary School, but also a big sister. I came into this program eager and ready to face the unexpected. The very first day of the program, when I met my little sisters Honesty, Yoselin and Yelitza, I felt a burst of joy just thinking of the amazing experience the students are gaining. Every Friday, we drive up to Kensington, where the school is located. We wait for our little sisters to arrive at the library where we host the program. We start as a group with an ice-breaker activity before we split in small groups (two little sisters with one big sister), and the girls pick a book they would like to read. When one of our little sisters is reading with her mentor, the other one writes on a topic given. We end our sessions with games that we play with other sister groups. When our time is up, we all leave ready for next week’s gathering or wanting more time to spend with each other.
On the first day, it was tough to get them talking at first but when the barrier was broken, we were laughing and smiling. Honesty, one of my little sisters, said she never had anyone ask her what her dreams or aspirations were. She smiled and said that everyone should be a part of these wonderful groups of girls. My little sister Yoselin was eager to read but struggled because of her little knowledge of the English language, having arrived recently from Puerto Rico to Philadelphia. However, that did not stop her. She persisted through and was able to read three full pages of Where The Wild Things Are on her own. I had never seen so much grit and determination in a third-grader.
I am very excited to be a part of this program, because of how it creates a learning culture for the Willard Elementary students. When I was their age, I never received the opportunity to have a mentor that was able to help me in my academics and life problems. I come from a rough background, just like many of the students at Willard. My goal is to increase their self-confidence and to remind them that they are still able to succeed regardless of the background they come from. My little sisters and I learn a lot from one another, from what we want to be when we grow up to why we joined and do this program. I can’t wait to continue my journey with them and see them grow and blossom.