I have loved working in the Big Brothers Big Sisters community. It has been both challenging and rewarding.

Throughout my experience with the organization, I have been in many different situations where I have been able to grow with my mentee.

Upon my first meeting with my mentee, it was a huge surprise to see him crying.

I struggled with this because I was essentially comforting a stranger who was much younger than me. I wasn’t sure how to connect with him, so I spoke with our caseworker and she suggested that he would benefit from someone to talk to.

I went down and sat next to him. It was awkward at first, but he eventually told me that he was crying because a classmate had been bullying him. I listened to how he was feeling and assured him it wasn’t his fault and sharing this information was very important.

The situation has helped me grow, develop problem solving skills, and develop more compassion in my work.

I was able to have a much broader perspective on issues that many Canadians face.

The most memorable moment for me has been when my little and I were playing the card game ‘Uno’ and he opened up to me.

I felt a special connection with my little as we talked about school, life, and sports. Also, while we were talking about his school, he talked about his experience being bullied and how it impacted him.

For him to trust me with this information was moving. It also allowed me to make a tangible difference in his life as I worked with our caseworker and his teacher to resolve the issue.

One of the things that I learned and enjoyed about the Paying It Forward training was the ability to connect with so many different people within the Big Brothers Big Sisters community in Canada.

Having met these different people, I was able to have a much broader perspective on issues that many different Canadians face in terms of identity.

For example, one of the participants at the workshop is a second-generation Chinese Canadian, who struggles to feel accepted within society because of their culture, but who also feels disconnected from their traditional culture.

After working with him, it was clear that society as a whole has to be more accepting and accommodating to people with diverse backgrounds.

I appreciate this training and the opportunities it has presented me in terms of friendships, education, and collaboration.

Thanks to Canadian Heritage for supporting the Paying It Forward project!