Small Actions- Big Differences

Posted on December 4th, 2009 by

A Big Partner Little Partner Pair at the Halloween Party (Photo by Jenny Broman '10)

Sam Frank '11 and her Little Partner at the Halloween Party (Photo by Jenny Broman '10)

Written by Jenny Broman ’10

“The smallest things often make the biggest difference,” says Emma Strand, junior communication studies major and coordinator of the Gustavus Big Partner Little Partner (BPLP) program this year. “You really can make a difference in a child’s life just by showing them you care and are there to support them,” she adds.

Insights such as the one Strand has gained are just some of the benefits of participation in the Big Partner Little Partner program at Gustavus. BPLP was organized years ago to pair college-age students with children in the St. Peter community, creating one-on-one mentorships. During weekly time together, a Big Partner and his or her Little Partner develop a relationship and share experiences that allow the Gustavus student to become a role model in the child’s life.

Frequently, the partnership will continue throughout the Big Partner’s time at Gustavus, and thus creating a more meaningful experience for both the Big and Little Partner.

It does not take long for Gustavus students to realize the benefits of BPLP. Throughout the three years spent with his Little Partner, Matt Wood, a senior economics major, has personally seen the positive changes that his work as a mentor has brought to his partner. At the same time, he feels the program has helped him make his life count while at Gustavus. “By making a difference in other people’s lives, it helps you realize that there is more in life than yourself,” Matt says.

A big partner paints her little partner's face. (Photo by Jenny Broman '10)

Pang Yang '11 paints her Little Partner's face. (Photo by Jenny Broman '10)

Similarly, senior management major Mariah Bierl says the variety of opportunities to serve the community while at Gustavus has enhanced her entire college experience. “By choosing to serve the community, students are giving their time and talents to individuals who are not as fortunate or who need a friend,” she says. But, in the end, Mariah has found the personal payback just as great. “Taking part in service-focused activities, such as the Big Partner Little Partner program, has added to my happiness at Gustavus.”

Reflecting on the meaningful lessons gained during the past two years with BPLP, Sam Frank, a junior biology major, says, “I have learned that being a role model is very important. It has shown me that I can make an impact in someone’s life just by planning fun activities and being there as friend.” Yes, small actions can make a big difference.


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