September is Big Brothers Big Sisters Month, and this month 3 members of our National Youth Mentoring Council (NYMAC) members will share their stories of how they got involved with their local Big Brothers Big Sisters agency, and comment on the mentor-mentee relationship that they formed during their matches.
“My journey with Big Brothers Big Sisters started when I was in grade 10. What initially started as an opportunity to fulfill my community hours requirement quickly turned into a relationship with the organization that has taught me more things than I would have never imagined. I went through the training to become an in-school mentor, and soon after that, I met my mentee. Initially, I wasn’t sure how I would develop a relationship with my mentee since we had a limited timeslot after school and did not seem to have much in common. But with each week, we would share our interests, and engage in conversation about our day-to-day activities. We began to develop trust and I began to understand how communication really is the key to any type of relationship. I’ve been able to take these communication skills that I learned within our mentoring relationship and transfer them to other areas of my life and the world around me!”
“Becoming a group mentor was one of the best things I did in high school. I learned how to support someone and truly place myself in their shoes over the course of those three years.
A lot of the time when going about a daily routine it can feel like you don’t have much impact on the world around you, but this changed whenever I spent time with my mentees. They could speak with me about school, family, hobbies, and anything going on in their life – whether they had agency over it or not – and get the support and validation they needed. Meanwhile, I got to experience a relationship that I genuinely cared about and had the chance to enact positive change in the life of my mentee. Our sessions were a bright spot in my week, a period of time in my studies that I never wanted to miss or ‘go through the motions'”.
“It was my first year of high school and I really wanted to be involved in within the school community, but I couldn’t find an opportunity that quite fit my personality and strengths. One day, one of my teachers encouraged me to pursue mentoring Big Brothers Big Sisters and that’s where my journey with the organization began. I was a group mentee for 2 years in the peer mentoring program, and transitioned into a teen mentor in my senior years. My experience of being a mentor taught me the importance of active listening. When I was with my mentee I leaned to give them a safe space where they could tell me anything they wanted, whether it was something as mundane as how their way day, or something more deep such as their journey to find their identity. Just simply listening to someone will make them feel understood and heard, and giving them that safe space to share their feelings and thoughts can really make a positive impact in their lives. I have and will continue to take apply these lessons to all aspects of my life.”