Maombi and Sarah were cross-cultural partners during our 2019 Sister Circles cohort. During one of their weekly meetings, they shared a bit about their experience over the past year and demonstrated the impact of forming a close relationship with someone from a different cultural background and walking through life together.
Maombi doesn’t really want to talk. She and her Treetops cross-cultural partner, Sarah, are in their usual study room at the Wyoming Public Library and Maombi has more important things to do. Like her Algebra homework.
This young lady is intent on life: schoolwork, learning to play the piano, cross country practice, singing in the choir at school, and church. But the topic of Sarah breaks her fierce concentration: “My beautiful partner! Oh my gosh, I cannot describe her! She is SO the best!” she laughs, a beautiful smile blooming on her face.
Sarah and Maombi became cross-cultural partners a year ago. “One of my friends was going to a volunteer information session at Treetops,” Sarah explains, “and I tagged along with her. It sounded like such a powerful mission and a great way to get involved. I was hooked from the very beginning.”
As cross-cultural partners, Sarah and Maombi meet each week to spend time together and be a resource to one another––sometimes working on goals Maombi identified through the Sister Circles program.
Their weekly meetings usually involve a lot of homework. “If I call her with a question about homework,” says Maombi, “Sarah tries in every way to come see me and help me. Sometimes I just send her the questions and she explains to me what I have to do and, oh my gosh, that is something I respect about her!”
But it’s not all studying. “We have a lot of fun,” says Sarah. “I would say that’s mutual. I love hanging out with her. At first, I was nervous. I had no idea what we would do together or if we would have common interests. But we never run out of things to talk about.”
They’ve discovered they have a lot in common: a love for folk music, singing, dancing, exercise. “Maombi has shown me around the gym,” Sarah says, “and taught me to use all the different equipment. It was awesome!”
A college chemistry professor, Sarah has been working with young people for a while. But, she says, “In other volunteer things I’ve done, I didn’t form a strong personal connection with one person over time to really build a deep relationship. And I’ve been so grateful that we have this friendship with Maombi. I and most of my friends, we only know people like us. It’s just been so inspiring and powerful to meet and form a relationship with someone from a very different cultural background and to learn from each other.”
Maombi puts it more simply. “She likes to hang out with me and I like to hang out with her. She’s the best!” She doesn’t have other friends like Sarah here in America — “oh my gosh, no!” — and, when asked if she considers their partnership a friendship, she answers simply and with sudden gravity: “Yes.”
A high school senior, Maombi visited GRCC with Sarah this summer and is, no surprise, intent on applying. When asked if she thinks Sarah is going to help her with that, Maombi laughs impatiently, “Oh my gosh! You’re asking the question but you already know!” Hasn’t she made it obvious that Sarah is the best!?