Monday, August 9, 2010

Little Graduation

My “Little Sister” graduated from PS 131 Middle School at the end of June and it was quite a momentous occasion not only for her, but also for me as I have grown very attached to her over the 3 years that we have known each other.

She is a 12 years old Chinese girl called Jenny whom I started mentoring when I joined the Big Brother Big Sister of New York City charity in 2007. While not being the most child-friendly person (I don’t dislike children but I just don’t relate to them easily), I loved the premise of the program which is based on providing a positive role model in the life of children whose families often live in modest and sometimes precarious conditions.  I never realized until moving here that a surprising 16% of kids drop out of High School in the US and the program is designed to make them want to pursue further education to build a better life for themselves.

I feel I have been very lucky professionally and my career has taken me places I only dreamed of as a little girl. I therefore liked the idea of sharing that with a child and showing her that everything is possible if you work at it and pursue your dreams.

Jenny’s graduation was a great accomplishment for her and she is going onto High School in Manhattan in the Fall. It has been truly amazing for me to watch her grow from a frail little girl so shy that it was paralyzing for her, to a more self-confident young teenager who is starting to ask me about boys!

But the event, which I was very excited to attend in person (American graduation ceremony just like in the movies!), also marked the end of our time together as the program is not available in her new school. Her parents couldn't attend due to work commitment unlike every other parnts so me being there was even more important for her. We have sworn to stay in touch however and I can’t wait to see how she gets on next year and hopefully for many more years to come.

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