Lifelong Learners

JP Vergara Stories May 11, 2018

“Uncertainty, excitement, fear, wanting to grow up, new experiences, and lessons learned. These feelings are what connect us,” Big Sister Arcelia says with certainty, sharing a picture in graduation regalia, her Little Sister Rebecca — also graduating that year — by her side.

It was six years ago that Big Arcelia first felt called to sign up for Big Brothers Big Sisters. “Throughout my life I had gained a lot of ‘sisters’,” she explains, “Good things in life do not happen alone.” She was happily matched with a Little who eventually graduated out of the program, and she was ready to be matched again. Meanwhile, Little Rebecca saw how her brother, become a Little and find that supportive someone with his Big. She was nervous — “I’m not really good at meeting new people,” she recounts. But she wanted in.

Big Arcelia, made aware of Rebecca’s reserved nature, was surprised at how talkative and outgoing her new Little was on their first outing. “We bonded quickly, and our talks have only gotten better!” she exclaims. Trips to museums, walks around the mall, and days spent painting ceramics together ensued, but the most memorable trip for them was an outing to celebrate their shared Mexican heritage. Growing up, the pair had both spent many summers in Mexico, in nearby cities.

They discussed their love of the country often, which is what inspired a trip to a special dance performance. “I had never been to Ballet Folklórico,” Rebecca tells us of the celebration of folk dance. “When my Big proposed the idea to go to one, I had no idea what it was.” She had never seen so many dances and traditional clothing from different regions of Mexico. “For me, it was wonderful to make that introduction to her and experience her delight.” Rebecca agrees: “It was an amazing thing to see.”

Culture was not their only shared experience: graduations were looming — Rebecca from high school and Arcelia from graduate school—and there was much to do. “[Rebecca] had a very busy schedule with college prep classes, applications, high school functions, and her social life,” Arcelia tells us. “We both experienced the trial and tribulations of school: going to class, studying, midterms and finals, maintaining our good grades, and making sacrifices, all for the sake of graduating.”

Rebecca was happy her Big Sister was there to offer advice. “It was relieving, because we both were going through the same thing and knew how stressful it was.” With finals done, diplomas acquired, graduation parties attended, and their official match drawing to a close, neither Rebecca nor Arcelia envision a future without each other. “It’s enlightening to see the impact of a friendship with one another,” Arcelia tells us. Looking back at all that they both have learned, in and out of their classrooms, she muses, “it is through others that we learn more about ourselves.”

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