Story posted April 29, 2008
Some 150 children from School Administrative District 75 will visit Bowdoin over the next two weeks part of the College's annual Bridge to Kids Days. The events offer the children and their Bowdoin student mentors a chance to celebrate their mentoring relationships.
The children will have lunch in Thorne Dining Hall and participate in activities planned by student leaders. Approximately 200 Bowdoin students serve in one-on-one mentoring relationships with local students via nine student-led mentoring programs. Most programs meet at schools for one hour, once-a-week, for the entire academic year.
The Bridge to Kids Mentoring Programs are operated through the Community Service Resource Center in partnership with School Administrative District 75 and Big Brothers Big Sisters of Bath/Brunswick. SAD 75 encompasses the towns of Bowdoin, Bowdoinham, Harpswell and Topsham. The College is a member of the Merrymeeting Bay Mentoring Coalition.
The campus visits will occur at lunchtime on May 2 and 9.
The relationships seem to have an impact on both the mentor and mentee.
"Say you're having a bad day this morning," said one fifth-grade mentee. "You can talk to them and have fun with them instead of just being all gloomy for the day."
"I love when my mentee reminds me that she trusts me, whether explicitly or in a more discreet way," said one mentor. "I feel honored when she lets me in on a secret and similarly so when she finally gave me access to the contents of her special pencil box. I also love when she talks about what she wants to be when she grows up -- it's so inspiring and refreshing to hear someone dream about what they want to do and what they want to become, regardless of how a rough childhood they have experienced."
Mentors serve as special friends who strive to be good listeners.
"My mentee felt comfortable to talk to me about the hardships his family was facing while his dad was overseas in Afghanistan," said another mentor.
"My mentee was having a lot of trouble with school and decided simply not to go for a week," said another. "On Friday, however, the principal informed me that he wanted to come in to see me and that's it. She called him, he came to school, we played together, and he went home."
Some Bowdoin students have been matched with their mentee for three or four years.
"It's just been extremely gratifying to be with the same mentee over four years," said one mentor. "Watching her mature, maintaining conversations, and seeing her move from really being a little girl to nearly an adolescent over the course of that time has been amazing to be privy to."