“In learning you will teach, and in teaching you will learn.”
This quote by Phil Collins could not be any truer. For the past two years, I have volunteered as an In School Mentor (ISM) with Big Brothers and Big Sisters of the Fraser Valley and have been fortunate enough to experience mentoring two young girls in elementary school. Guiding them in how to deal with misfortunes, stress, bullies, and other not-so-fun things has not always been easy, but in the end it was incredibly enlightening. I looked to teach my two young buddies with ways to deal with such things and overcome them, but I found myself learning and gaining tremendous insight through the process of teaching them.
We shared laughs, stories and they confided in me and I tried my best to give them honest and genuine advice. I learned how to earn their trust and keep it, learning more and more about their lives with every meeting. Being a mentor taught me so many things and being with my young buddies reminded me of the important things in life, like happiness, laughter, and focusing on the positive side of everything. It reminded me of how crucial it is to seize the day and try new things, take chances and work on our hobbies and interests. Being their mentor taught me how important it is to always lend a hand and ear to those around us, as everyone needs a friend they can trust.
As an ISM, I was also able to help the girls cultivate their interests and guide them towards discovering their passions in life. One of my favourite memories as an ISM is baking with my younger buddy and seeing her self-confidence rise as she successfully baked all sorts of delicious treats. Helping her discover this hidden talent of hers and seeing her passion grow for baking taught me that we never truly know all our secret talents until we attempt to try them.
Life is full of surprises, and I highly encourage other students to volunteer with Big Brothers and Big Sisters, as what you learn from the experience and how you can positively help others will truly surprise you. Not only will you be helping a young child in countless ways, but through helping them, you yourself will grow as a person and discover aspects about yourself and life that you may have been unaware of. There are many volunteering positions available with the organization, including:
Being a Big Brother or Big Sister, where you meet with a student outside of their classroom for 2 to 4 per week.
Volunteering as an In School Mentor (ISM) where you meet with your little buddy at their school once a week for an hour
There are various programs such as Go Girls! and Game On which look for volunteers to help promote healthy lifestyles in children by educating them and providing them with the information and tools they need to live healthily.