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Tea for Two: Big Sister Dina Pradel & Little Sister Shanice

Posted 09/01/2008

Nearly four years ago, Little Sister Shanice felt trapped by boredom, confined to her home and Roxbury neighborhood.  She knew there was a wealth of activities and places to visit around her, but without someone to show her these opportunities they seemed out of her reach.  Shanice’s great-grandmother Charlotte, with whom she was living, saw her frustration and decided to have Shanice matched with a Big Sister.  That decision marked the beginning of a new chapter in Shanice’s life. 

Soon, Shanice and Big Sister Dina were exploring all that Boston has to offer.  They went to Celtics games, painted pottery, and watched scary movies together.  They started a tradition of “Girls’ Days,” which meant going to their favorite South End pizza parlor, Emelio’s, and then getting their nails done at the nearby salon.  Now they continue to make plans for future excursions, such as sleepovers and a visit to the Black Heritage Trail. 

Though they have shared many experiences in their time together, Big and Little Sister agree that their favorite outing was a trip to the Taj Boston Hotel for afternoon tea.  Dina often enjoyed going to the Taj for tea with her girlfriends and thought Shanice might like it as well.  The afternoon was not only an exciting new experience for Shanice, but an intense bonding session for the two.  Shanice had a lot on her mind that day, and when they sat down to tea, she opened up to her Big Sister and they talked for hours.  Times like this have been an exercise in truly listening for Dina.  Though she is often tempted to give advice at every turn, she said that her experience with Shanice has taught her the value of sometimes just listening.

However, one piece of wisdom Dina has shared with her Little Sister is that it takes hard work and a stick-to-it attitude to achieve your goals.  While she hopes Shanice will apply this advice to her future goal of becoming a doctor or a dentist, Dina has already seen her Little Sister demonstrate a strong sense of determination.  Last winter, Dina and Shanice attended Big Sister Association’s annual ski trip to Wachussett Mountain.   Shanice had never skied before, but according to Dina, “She just barreled down that hill and didn’t look back.  Even when she fell, she popped right back up and kept going.”

As Shanice prepares to enter high school this fall, Dina hopes the confidence and resilience she showed on the slopes will transfer into her academic life.  Thanks to the support she has received from her Big Sister, Shanice is sure it will.  “I am actually confident about going to high school now,” said Shanice.  In fact, Big Sister Dina’s positive influence on Shanice has been so evident, that her great-grandmother Charlotte signed up another of her great-grandaughters for a Big Sister too!