We recently sat down with one of our Sister Circles' volunteer, Teresa, to learn more about why she felt called to get involved with Treetops Collective.
Treetops Collective (TC): What led you to sign up for the Sister Circles program?
Teresa: I was interested in volunteering in my community after moving back to Grand Rapids and learned about Treetops Collective at the Eastown StreetFair. From my experience of moving to the East Coast and the importance of community to navigate life in a new place, I wanted to extend that support to others who are new to our community. I particularly wanted to work with the refugee community in Grand Rapids because of the barriers they face with relocating, language, transportation, cultural differences, etc. I wanted to be a friend and a person who can help a refugee teen not just survive here but thrive.
TC: What kinds of activities do you and your sister do together?
Teresa: Angelique and I visit various locations in Grand Rapids and work specifically on English. Sometimes we visit the library, go for a walk at Blandford or hang out at the Downtown Market. We will use our English Picture Dictionary or sit and talk about life and take pictures with our phones. Angelique is teaching me about the new apps I "need" for my phone-this is one of the many perks of hanging out with a high schooler, I'm still in the know for what's new!
We recently filled out a job application for Angelique and practiced for her upcoming interview. She did amazing with the practice interview questions. I am continuously impressed with how quickly she is advancing in her English and able to express herself more and more.
(update since this interview took place: She got the job!)
TC: What have you most enjoyed about being a part of the Sister Circles program?
Teresa: I truly enjoy spending time with Angelique. We laugh a lot and she is very funny. I enjoy that we both are learning from one another and growing together.
TC: What is one thing that you have learned through the process of getting to know Angelique?
Teresa: I am learning more about the resilience and resourcefulness of people. Angelique may not know the word to communicate with me about a topic but she never gives up trying to find another way to express herself with the vocabulary she does know. She is determined to help her family by working and she has a clear view about what she needs to do to obtain her goals in the future.
TC: What would you like the world to know about this opportunity? Why should others get involved/help support the program?
Teresa: There is something very beautiful about having a relationship with someone who is unlike yourself. I look at my friends and family and for the most part we are very similar-same language, religion, background, appearance, style, etc. Treetops Collective gave me an opportunity to expand my social circle and become friends with Angelique who is different than me but who I adore. I am learning about joy and kindness from Angelique-her life has been filled with so many challenges and sadness, but she is so joyful. I think we all need someone who can teach us joyfulness and help us examine ourselves. Angelique has surprised me with this gift and I am thrilled to have her in our community.
If you are interested in learning more about the Sister Circles program or know someone who is, please fill out this form, and we'll be in contact.