Since becoming involved in Big Sister Boston’s Site-Based Mentoring program in February 2016, Big Sister Chelsi, a college student at Boston University, and Little Sister Taryn, 11, of Brookline have discovered that they have an uncanny number of things in common. “She’s like the younger, sassier version of me!” said Chelsi.
Though they may live in different areas of the Greater Boston area, the two feel right at home with one another when they meet each week during Taryn’s after school program at the West End House in Allston. “She lets me be myself,” said Taryn. The two embrace their similarities and their differences, which has gone a long way to build confidence and perseverance in Little Sister Taryn. Having someone she trusts to talk to about setbacks both big and small has improved Taryn’s ability to face them head on. Once, after Taryn’s plans to attend a Boston Celtic’s game fell through, she found herself feeling upset. However, after talking through the setback with Chelsi, Taryn walked away with the understanding that life comes with its disappointments, but “they shouldn’t ruin your whole day.” Through Chelsi’s influence, Taryn finds that she isn’t “scared to fall back, or try again,” when faced with a challenge. Chelsi is blown away by Taryn’s growth, saying that she, “sometimes [has] to remember that [Taryn] is eleven and not a college student because her level of maturity is through the roof.”
A shared cultural heritage has also helped Chelsi and Taryn forge their bond. Both Big and Little Sister’s families are from the Caribbean. “We share our love for food through that [common background],” said Chelsi. The key element to Caribbean cuisine is the many spices it incorporates – these are the unique underlying elements of each dish that make them pop, leaving a lasting impression. Just like their favorite meals, Chelsi and Taryn have each contributed unique qualities to their relationship, which has created the same lasting effect in their connection. “Since we have been matched, I feel like we have grown to be more like sisters,” said Big Sister Chelsi.
So, what exactly is this mix of traits the two have combined in their recipe for sisterhood?
A dash of passion…
- “It’s important to be passionate because you need to show yourself and others how driven you are,” said Chelsi. She’s embraced her passions by pursuing an education in occupational therapy, and through this, has shown Taryn that the sky is the limit. When asked about her future goals, Taryn said “I have a lot of choices…I either think I’d like to become a historian, a chef, or a scientist.”
A handful of humor…
- “What I admire most about Chelsi is that she’s really funny,” said Taryn. The pair fill their time together at the West End House with arts and crafts, games, and projects, and there is never a moment spent that isn’t filled with laughter. “Every time I go see her, I just leave laughing,” said Chelsi. “I love this girl. She’s amazing.”
A sprinkle of strength…
- Chelsi and Taryn’s strong personalities have meshed perfectly, and something that they appreciate most is their shared sense of strength. The two have embraced each other’s confidence and self-proclaimed “sassiness.” This sense of acceptance has allowed Taryn to feel “brave enough to stand up for [her]self and [her] friends.”
Perhaps the key ingredient to their relationship is Big Sister Chelsi’s commitment to her Little Sister. By showing up each week and simply being present and caring, Chelsi has made a profound impact on Taryn’s outlook for the future. Knowing that Chelsi has her back makes Taryn feel “ready for anything.”