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Little Friend, Huge Friendship

Fátima's long overdue introduction to her Project Friendship mentee, Zoe!

Fátima's long overdue introduction to her Project Friendship mentee, Zoe!

If you have been a regular reader, you might remember me bringing up my involvement with Project Friendship a couple of times in the past (like here and here). I have been meaning to do a formal introduction to the program and my mentee (like the one Kai did back in November), but I haven’t gotten around to it for some reason. Well, I figured I couldn’t let the year end without making a Project Friendship blog. So, better late than never, here it is!

Getting Ready to be a Mentor

Holly, the director of the program and the person in charge of matching college students with their elementary and middle-school-aged mentees promised me during my training that she would find the perfect kid for me. Admission as a mentor, though comprehensive, is not an exhaustive inquiry into one’s personal psyche. So, I wondered how, with so little knowledge about me, would she be able to find what she called “a mini version” of myself.

My mentee and I on the swings.
Throwback to December, when we were still getting to know each other.

Several weeks after being approved to be a mentor during winter break, I got an email from Holly informing me that I had been matched with a third-grader named Zoe. Completely terrified when we first met, I feared that she wouldn’t like me or find me boring. I didn’t know what I’d do if she didn’t engage in conversation or disliked the activities I had picked out for us to do. Watching her walk into the Weitz with her mom, it hit me how young Zoe actually was. What did I know about kids, besides the fact that I haven’t been one for almost a decade?

As you have probably figured out, all my fears were grossly exaggerated and profoundly misguided. Whatever magic Holly promised me worked because Zoe and I clicked instantly. Though she is her own person, not just “a mini version” of myself, we are still super compatible and have had the best of times learning from and about each other.

Meet Zoe!

Zoe is the best friend anyone could have asked for. She has a fantastic sense of fashion and is a talented visual artist. Like many other kids, she is very observant and has tons of energy to spare. She will remember everything I tell her (EVERY. SINGLE. LITTLE. THING) and will not miss an opportunity to prank me. She also has the most infectious laugh and the sweetest smile, which have been hard-earned but absolutely worth it.

It is a privilege to spend time with Zoe and watch her grow more and more comfortable with me. She has a great imagination but is also smart for her age, picking up easily on what is going on around her and making sense of the world that way. Kind, funny, outspoken, and confident, she is a true friend and I am very blessed to call her mine.

My mentee with our cookie dough in Dacie Moses.
We attempted to bake cookies.

What We Do

Zoe and I have met almost every week since early December, for at least an hour a week. Most of the time, we like to keep our hang-outs lowkey. You can find us on the fifth floor of the Libe, coloring, drawing, or practicing our Spanish skills. We also visit the Northfield Public Library and throw play dates for our stuffed animals or exchange book recommendations.

Occasionally, we’ll break our routine and do something out of the ordinary. In the past, we have gone into downtown Northfield for some hot cocoa, visited professor Cecilia Cornejo’s exhibit, and baked cookies at Dacie Moses!

Our origami creations
We recently made some origami!

We also join group events organized by Project Friendship for mentor-mentee pairs to hang out together. These included volunteering in a fundraising event at Culver’s and participating in the Easter Egg hunt. Most recently, we had fun at the Family Picnic.

Fátima strives to learn everything about everything, but is especially interested in Sociology/AnthropologyPsychology, and Disney! As a freshman, she can’t wait to introduce her peers to her native Guatemalan culture, practice her newly acquired ASL skills, and play in the snow for the first time. In her free time, Fátima can be found watching cartoons, poorly playing the ukulele, or desperately missing her dog, Cosmo. Meet the other bloggers!