Connecting with Community: Sister-to-Sister

By Guest Contributor

Have you ever wished to relive the glory of your middle school years? Whether you were a confident kid or one who kept your eyes cast downward while walking in the hallway between classes, middle school was a difficult time. Sister-to-Sister (STS) mentors, however, revel in the opportunity to be 13 again.

Sister-to-Sister is a club that invites girls from the immediate Middlebury area for monthly fun activities and exposes them to new experiences, such as log-rolling, zumba and international cooking. The College Sisters focus on discussing topics that are pertinent to the girls including body issues, relationships and self-defense. The grins and laughter of the girls are priceless.

Ninja + pumpkin carving + apple cider = October STS Event! On the warm Saturday in October when the event was held, the middle school students dug their hands deep into pumpkin guts on the back porch of Chellis House. The Sisters and girls just chatted. Sister-to-Sister emphasizes a comfortable, open environment for the girls to talk and be themselves.

Just before Thanksgiving break, Sister-to-Sister had its keystone activity of the year: the Summit. The Kevin P. Mahaney ’84 Center for the Arts was teeming with young girls and college mentors, and energy levels were high. The day was filled with workshops, discussions, food and friendship bracelets.

In the morning, I joined a few girls at the Poor Form Poetry workshop. As we sat on top of the conference table in the middle of a CFA classroom, the girls and I were entranced by the beat of the performed poems. When it was our turn to write down our thoughts, I was impressed by the girls’ confidence and willingness to share personal stories with people that they had just met.

Other girls cooked up delectable sustainable treats at Self-Reliance, made beautiful melodies with the Mischords or “zenned out” with yoga. Later, Professor of Dance Christal Brown had us jiggling, hopping and stepping across the dance studio. While many girls felt uncomfortable at first, everyone participated with smiles.

In more serious discussions with the students, the college mentors talked about the pressures of friendships and self-empowerment as we sat cross-legged in a circle. It was humbling to see these young women take these conversations seriously and share about their tribulations at home and at school.

My favorite part of the Summit was the warm and fuzzies wall. Throughout the day, everyone writes Post-It notes to others that they met and sticks them on a wall. The white wall was covered in yellow, hot pink and blue notes by the afternoon. This year, the college mentors received a special note saying: “Dear college students: Thank you. It was fun!” These notes warm our hearts and make all of the planning worthwhile.

The end of the day was bittersweet as we watched a slideshow of the day’s happenings. Two girls arrived as strangers in the morning and became best friends by 4 PM. Each girl leaves with a CD of “girl power” music and hopefully a bit more confidence.

I stumbled across Sister-to-Sister when one of the faculty advisors encouraged me to attend a meeting. I am forever thankful for my experiences. Not only have I enjoyed spending time with young girls, who are going to accomplish great things, I have met many inspirational people on this campus. The Sisters are my family.

Written by KELLY SURALIK ’13