At the end of each semester here at St. Kate’s, we organize a little end-of-the-project get together for our sister/student pairs. It is particularly meaningful to me, as I’m the one who gets to meet all of the sisters and the students at the project onset and pair them up. The party brings me the opportunity to see how the seeds I have planted have grown together into beautiful flowers that will continue to bloom.
This semester’s party was held at Christmas time, and something new and wonderful happened: some of our pairs were exchanging gifts! Pa Ying had given her sister, Sister Kate, the most beautiful jacket (which Sister Kate was proudly wearing at the party). Sister Fran and Sophia also had gifts to exchange. The point was not that they were simply giving each other something – rather, that each of them had taken the time to select a gift (in some cases handmade) that reflected their unique relationship.
When we here at SisterStory discuss this project, we spend a great deal of time talking about how the student benefits from getting to know a sister – and that’s true. Sisters have served as beacons of support for our students as they undergo tremendous change (as we all do in college). Rocky’s sister, Sister Katherine, helped Rocky to find a major more suited to her skills and interests. Anna’s sister, Sister Catherine, has served as a support for Anna while she is far away from her family in Namibia. The benefits of knowing a sister run deep, even for project staff.
It’s important, however, to remember that the benefits of this wonderful relationship actually go both ways. The opportunity to connect with a young person has created bonds of friendship for sisters that will last years and years. Every sister I meet with is eager to learn from this new generation. The sisters are invigorated by their young friends. As these relationships blossom, connections are made between the sister and the student’s family, their roommates and friends. The circle of love and support and friendship continues to grow and grow. I am blessed to be part of this process.