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Labor and Economic Opportunity

Match has big impact on mentor and mentee

Dominic and Ethan

I first met Dominic two winters ago on a snowy Wednesday afternoon. I was a 19 year old college sophomore attending GVSU.

I was excited yet a little nervous to meet my little brother. I was greeted at the door by an excited little 8-year-old who looked up at me, staring through his glasses and smiling a large smile. Our first outing was a sledding trip to a nearby park. We spent the afternoon sliding down the hill, walking up it, and trying to convince me to carry both sleds (some of us, that is.) From there, our relationship grew.

We established routines, and these routines offered Dominic comfort and stability. He would spend car rides reading books to me, or I would spend it answering his math facts. I spend much of our conversation trying to make Dominic think about his interests, his passions, and his future. At first, Dominic's default answer to most questions was a quick and dismissive

"I don't know," which is why our conversation during a car ride last year came as a surprise: I asked Dominic, "So, what would do you think you would like to be when you grow up?" "Well," he paused,
"I might want to become a teacher like you."

It became clear to me the impact that I can make, not only through my instruction, but how I direct my own life. Yes, anyone who mentors through weekly or monthly outings can attest to the importance of car ride conversations. Car rides have also been a time for us to play "Remember when..." in which we reminisce on the many experiences we have had together.

From learning to swim, to chopping down a Christmas tree, to getting autographs from the White Caps team, our experiences together have been interesting and new. Between these meetings I am often greeted with a text sent from his Mom's phone, often missing many grammatical components, making it all the more heartfelt such as "hi," "whenareyoucomingtogetme," or, my favorite, "ilovyou." I have learned so much about life from my time with Dominic, and I hope that I have impacted him in a similar way.

This story was submitted by Ethan Barnes of Big Brothers Big Sisters. Submit your own mentoring story . Or learn how to become a mentor!