You may have heard of them–you may even have an idea of what they do. But have you ever thought of being one?
Big Sisters of BC Lower Mainland has been serving girls in one-to-one mentoring relationships since 1960, with the mission of “enhancing the confidence, self-esteem and well-being of girls through supportive friendships with caring women”. Each Big and Little Sister match gets together once a week for at least one year.They spend time together doing fun activities they enjoy such as crafts, sports, baking, and talking.
However, for many University students mired in school, perhaps studying at SFU during the fall/spring and then moving home for the summer, a one year time commitment might not be feasbile. While Big Sisters of BC Lower Mainland has 94 young girls currently waiting to be matched with a Big Sister, there are other ways for interested volunteers to contribute to this great cause.
Reena Dhillon, a 3rd year Arts and Social Sciences student SFU, knows all about this. Reena is a Study Buddy for her 8 year old Little Sister. Unlike being a Big Sister, a Study Buddy requires only a six month time commitment, where the Buddy offers the Little Sister educational support and guidance.
How did you get involved in the Study Buddy program?
During high school (in Abbotsford), I was involved with the Big Brothers and Big Sisters Program in the In School Mentoring Program and when I moved to Burnaby I wanted to continue being a part of the great program. I enjoyed being a Big Sister and having an impact on my little buddy which led me into the Big Sisters Study Buddy program because it would allow me to further enhance my teaching skills and build a relationship with a buddy at the same time.
Why did you choose to volunteer your time with Big Sisters of BC Lower Mainland?
I choose to volunteer my time with Big Sisters of BC Lower Mainland because of my previous involvement with them in Abbotsford. In addition, the minimum one hour of participation a week is doable if you are a student and/or work. The Study Buddy program also could double as volunteer hours for the PDP program at SFU which I plan on entering in a couple of years so I thought it would be beneficial for me to continue doing my volunteering with Big Sisters.
What does a typical volunteer “shift” entail?
My study buddy and I usually spend about 10 minutes on her challenges, strengths, and weaknesses; this involves her daily life including school, her friends, and so forth. The remaining 50 minutes are devoted to strengthening her school work; this involves helping her with homework or giving her extra stimulus by completing educational worksheets if she completes her homework before the allotted hour.
What have you found most rewarding about being a Study Buddy?
From my experience as a Study Buddy the most rewarding part is seeing the progression of my little [sister]. It brings me delight to see my study buddy’s general confidence in math and herself confidence increase in the time we were together.
What have you found most challenging about being a Study Buddy? The most challenging aspect about being a study buddy is the patience you need to provide to be effective. In particular, it was difficult to keep my study buddy concentrated on her work, because she rather talk about their friends, family. So, we allotted about 10 minutes before starting homework to talk about both of our lives and the rest of the time is spent on school work.
How has your involvement with this program affected you personally?
My involvement with Big Brothers and Big Sisters eventually led me to decide that I had a passion to become a high school teacher. I am pursuing this and the Study Buddy program allows me to further enhance my teaching skills and is an excellent way to get volunteer hours to aid the application for PDP. It is also a wonderful experience and I enjoy meeting with my buddy every week and the feeling I get from knowing I am helping her is a reward in itself!
What would you say to other students looking to get involved with Big Sisters?
Big Sisters is a great program and very rewarding for you and your little. You are able to find another friend to experience your life with and spend time with. Your little can also help you in many ways–it’s not only helping your little but you as Big Sister will find that she has taught you or reminded you of many things. It is a great experience and if you are interested in going into a teaching or a related field it is a great opportunity to further your experience and volunteer hours in a fun and meaningful way!