“This may sound really cheesy, but I’ve definitely gotten a friend – a girl who really does feel like a little sister [through the BBBS mentoring program],” shared Elizabeth Miller, a 20-year old Abilene Big Sister at Abilene Christian University.
Elizabeth said, “I’ve known about BBBS since high school, when I was in a similar program for high school students mentoring elementary and middle school students…and I absolutely loved it. I really enjoy spending time and developing a relationship with a younger person that I can invest in and love on.” So when she heard about BBBS’ Lunch Buddies program her freshman year, Elizabeth decided to sign up as a Big!
The first time Elizabeth met her Little Sister, Kalyana, her first impression was that Kalyana was very sweet and really funny. She remembers, “I walked away from the first meeting thinking that it was crazy how well-suited we were for each other. We have pretty similar personalities, we laugh a lot, and she is so, so loving.”
Since then, Elizabeth and Kalyana have made so many memories together. Elizabeth shared, “I taught my Little how to play speed, the card game, and we love doing that. We’re both pretty competitive, so it’s been really fun to watch her get faster and see her reaction when she wins. We also use the cards to practice multiplication, and we time her as she does the multiplication as fast as she can. It’s great to watch how excited she gets when she beats a previous record!”
Last year, Elizabeth also took her Little to Match Event at the zoo and they both thought it was a “really awesome experience…It was the first time we’d seen each other outside of the school, and it was great to be able to talk for more than half an hour.” Elizabeth added, “It was really fun, but I also learned a lot about her. In particular, I was really impressed by her response when I asked her if she wanted to be a veterinarian. She said no, and when I asked why, she said that she didn’t want to see animals in pain. That thought never would have occurred to me, but it was really telling of her big heart. She just loves others so much.”
In describing her Little, Elizabeth commented how “she has the perfect combination of sweetness and sass, so we laugh all the time. Even when we’re joking around and being silly, she never lets me forget how much she loves me, and I really cherish that. I wanted to become a Big so I could make a kid feel that loved and supported, but she makes sure that I get that too, and our relationship is really strong because of that.”
Still, Elizabeth is trying to figure out the best way to grow their relationship in the midst of breaks. She said, “every time we have a long break (like the summer or winter break), it feels just a little awkward when we meet for the first time again because we mostly see each other in the school. It doesn’t take long to get back to our normal selves, though, which is great!”
Reflecting on the time she has spent being a Big, Elizabeth glowed and shared, “I never expected to get so much love from a Little. I really only expected to be giving it. I’ve also learned a lot about how to grow a relationship. In most relationships, the growth just happens naturally as a result of spending casual time together, but it’s a little different when you’re mostly meeting at lunch in a school, so I’ve learned to be a lot more intentional with her and our conversations in general. It’s helped me to ask better questions that help us get to know each other better, catch up on the most important parts of our lives, and still have fun and engaging conversations week after week.”
Now, Elizabeth often offers her “two-cents” to others who are also looking to mentor: “Be ready to invest yourself emotionally. There’s a lot of fun and games (literally), but there’s also someone who really wants a relationship with you, and that’s an amazing experience if you pour yourself into it. Sometimes, what you hear about what’s happening in your Little’s life – be it at school, home, or anywhere – might hurt, but those are opportunities to show you care, and having a truly invested relationship with your Little makes such a huge difference in your own life.”