Lisa and Tyra
My initial motivation to become a Big Sister might have been a little selfish on my part. I wanted someone to hang out with when I was bored! LOL! I moved to Bryan for work eight years ago and initially didn’t have many friend my age or younger. I had been teaching classes at a local studio and enjoyed the one-on-one time I had there with students. For some reason, I remembered hearing ads for Big Brothers Big Sisters when I was younger. Growing up, I knew of a few Littles in the program so I thought I had a pretty good idea of what would be required to become a Big. On a whim I decided to fill out an application hoping I’d get a girl who loved art and watching Disney movies as much as I did!
I had a few mentors of my own growing up. My grandmother was always a huge supporter of my involvement with art. When I was a kid, she gave me all the things I needed to color…and I drew on everything! Sadly she passed when I was eight, but the love of art she helped instill in me persisted. In school, I was inspired by my art teachers. At the time I didn’t think of them as “mentors.” They were teachers just doing their job, but they inspired and motivated me and now that I’m a teacher myself–and a Big Sister–I understand that part of a teacher’s job truly is to mentor their students.
My goal when I became a Big Sister was to give whomever I was matched with a chance to get out of the house and do things. I wanted someone I could share all of my favorite interests with and I hoped that I would be able to inspire them. Over time, I learned the most important thing I can give my Little, Tyra, is my time. Just getting her out of the house and away from the difficult circumstances she sometimes faces gives her the chance to just be a “normal” person, at least for a little bit.
My goals have changed in the six years I’ve been together with Tyra. Now that she’s turned 16 and entered high school, I find that we are growing together and making connections with others together. I learn from her just as much as she learns from me, and I take a lot of satisfaction from that. In our time together, I’ve literally watched her grow into a mature and thoughtful young woman. When we first met, she was terribly shy and didn’t talk a lot. Now she’s an excellent communicator and I enjoy what she has to say! Through the years, Tyra has been through a lot. Fortunately, she’s become completely comfortable asking me to help her with whatever challenges she encounters, and I consider that to be a privilege. I’m so proud of the strong, smart and independent person she’s become.
As for how I have changed in my time as a Big Sister, I would have to say when I started I was a bit sheltered in my understanding of the world around me. I didn’t have a lot of friends growing up who weren’t white. I didn’t know what it was like to face some of the day-to-day hurdles that Tyra has had in her young life. In our time together, I have learned how others see the world. Through spending time with her I have become a more empathetic person, noticing and acknowledging more readily other people and their needs. I have become more selfless, and I now know the joy that comes from truly caring about others. No doubt I am a better person for being matched with Tyra.
Being a Big Sister or Big Brother changes lives. Yes, there really are kids out there who desperately need a positive role model. And yes, YOU could be that person! Kids just want to have fun and many of them don’t have a lot of opportunities to do that. Your time, attention, concern and support really can make a difference.
Being a Big will change your life, too.