The Big Sisters Program has introduced me to my two little sisters Yeliza and Jaelha. At the begging of las semester I had only worked with Yeliza and I have seen the massive growth she has done since. Yeliza has seen school through the lens of just working without an outcome but now as you can see in her notebook to the left in the second question, she has a goal of wanting to becoming a teacher by” going to a good college.” She has a passion for wanting to learn they whys and the whats to things which I know will take her far in life. Her drive has even reached her to her reading level from a E (Beginner) to a O (Intermediate). Yeliza’s role model in school is her counselor Ms.Bronte who manages all the students at Willard Elementary school. She plans to also make a program like Big Sister’s in order to help girls her age to read and write.
At the beginning of this second semester I was assigned to my other little sister Jaelha. Who has been on the honor roll at Willard Elementary since her arrival to the school. She has a passion to dance and wants to become a dancer when she grows up. Jaelha has made a huge impression on me when she grab one of the books from a high level reading level and read it perfectly without asking for my help. I see the determination both of my little sisters have in wanting to attend a good college like Bryn Mawr. They are both filled with joy on coming to campus and seeing where they will be in a few years.
Deylenis prefers PE and art to other subjects like writing and math. I think her personality favors outlets that allow her to be active and creative. She has mentioned before she wanted to be a teacher, so next week I will ask her about her future career and why, expecting it to be based on her favorite subjects.
I have been working with Aaliyah for a semester and every time we discuss her interests and passions, the list grows. Aaliyah is incredibly talented, and she loves to learn. She plays multiple instruments and every time her music teacher introduces a new instrument, she tells me how excited she is to learn how to play it. Therefore, I initially asked this question because I wondered if she wanted to pursue a music-related career, but I was taken aback by her answer.
When I asked her for her favorite subject this time, she did not instantly respond with music and when I asked if she wanted to pursue music, she said: “I don’t think so, I want to help lots of people.” She wants to become a lot of things including a doctor to heal those who are sick, a judge to, as she said, “put bad people in jail,” and a teacher to help students like her classmates. She tried her best to find a way to help all the demographics and I was really inspired by commitment and aspirations.
I have been working with Samiah since September. Although she is great at reading and writing and I have seen continuous progress in those areas, it is clear by her answer that she prefers free time. Every single week towards the end of the time we have designated to reading and writing, I see her eyeing the Jenga box. When their guidance counselor Ms. (I can’t remember if it is Mrs. or Miss) Bronte declares it is free time, she runs over and grabs it. There are two boxes of Jenga, but Samiah prefers the pink one. In this version of the game, each block has a personal question on it. I believe in the beginning it helped her in opening up to me. It was a way for her to tell me about her life and her views on things. I would explain in more detail, but we’ve always agreed what is said in Jenga stays in Jenga. There is one story I want to tell, only because it isn’t her personal business and I don’t think she would mind.
This past week the pink Jenga box was taken by another little sister, Samiah was upset but settled for the other box. In this version of the game each block has an emotion on it, and as we pulled each out we would state what made us feel that type of emotion. I pulled out a block that said “confident,” and she asked what that meant. I asked her, “What makes you feel better about yourself? What makes you feel good?” Not the most thorough definition, but the first thing that came to mind. She replied, “Helping others.” I think this is the best explanation of who Samiah is. Her emotional intelligence at nine years old blew me away. I’m twenty-eight, and I’m sure as some of you do too, I can so easily get caught up in my own world and forget about the things in life that are really important. I think how we interact and relate with one another has such a profound impact on who we are and the environment around us which we help create. With that being said, I’m going to challenge the readers of this and fans of Samiah, that the next time you feel overwhelmed with your life or too caught up in your own world, to do something for someone else.
Or you can take a picture with a cool snapchat filter, she seems to like that too.
Unfortunately, one of my Little sisters, Joliana, could not attend our weekly meeting last Friday. Here’s what Glerielis, my other Little sister, responded to my question: What do you enjoy the most about the Big Sisters program?
I came up with this question because I wanted to know what my Little Sisters liked about our time together. I have noticed that they are always excited to see us every Friday, and I wanted to know what part of the program made her want to come back every week, even if it meant staying a few minutes after school.
I have to say that I felt happy after reading her response. It was never my intention to be a “fun” Big sister: I always try to be myself around both my Little Sisters, so I am honored to know that Glerielis thinks that I am a fun person!
I also could not help but smile after reading that she is excited about visiting the Bryn Mawr campus in a few months. This is her second year in the program, which means that she has already visited the school before, yet, she is still looking forward to coming back. I hope that having a chance to see the campus and visit some classes motivates her to consider attending college when the time comes. I really hope that the Big Sisters program continues to have a positive impact on her life.
My name is Andrea Moreno, and I am currently a Junior at Bryn Mawr. I am majoring in Psychology and minoring in Child and Family Studies. My long term goal is to help families with children who have been diagnosed with a mental health disorder and becoming a family therapist. My short term goal is being able to work with children who do not have easy access to additional opportunities that could provide a helping hand in both academic and social aspects. I have always enjoyed volunteering with children because it has given me joy to see I could make the slightest difference in their minds. I have been part of the Big Sisters Program since last year, when Julien and Inés first started to develop and structure the program. Last semester, I was given the opportunity to study abroad in London and so I was unable to be here on campus. Coming back from abroad, I was given the opportunity again to be part of the program and continue to work with the bright students at Willard.
Thus far, I am been working with Briseyda and Jeilin, who have unique ways of looking at life and wanting to improve their reading and writing skills. On our last session, I had given them a prompt to answer, which was: What do you want to be when you grow up?
Both girls told me that they were not sure what they wanted to be, so I explained to them to think about where they would like to be in the future? What do they see themselves doing? And so, Briseyda told me she wanted to be an artist, to create pieces that were beautiful and unique. Jeilin told me she wanted to explore other places around the world, and that one of her dreams was to go to Los Angeles. When I was thinking about the kinds of answers I was expecting them to give me, I was thinking about future jobs that they would want to have. But instead, they gave me an answer that they found happiness and joy behind, which I thought was an even better way of looking at the question. Both my little sisters help me realize that the small things you enjoy today can continue to be part of your future. I am excited to see the kinds of dreams they develop and want to achieve, both short and long term.