Hanging Out with the Buddies

Even if you don’t have time to join clubs, Whitman provides numerous opportunities to take a break from academics and get some volunteer experience. Last year, I was a part of the Mentor Program, which consisted of me driving the Whitman Community Van out to a nearby elementary school to eat lunch and play with my mentee, a cute third grade girl who was the highlight of my Tuesdays.

Unfortunately, since most of my mornings and early afternoons are so crammed with work and classes, I was unable to continue the Mentor Program. I did want to volunteer somewhere however, ideally for something that was low commitment so that it would fit into my busy schedule– and half-way into the semester, I stumbled onto an email about the Buddy Program.

The Buddy Program partners Whitman students with disabled members of the community, and students and their “buddies” get together for a total of five times throughout the semester. It was exactly the kind of program I was looking for, so I emailed the leader and, after filling out some paperwork, she paired me with a buddy.

Although three activities had already passed by the time I joined, I was still able to jump in and attend upcoming events. The first event I attended was bowling. Although my buddy was unable to make it, it gave me a chance to meet other students who were a part of the program and their buddies, who were all very sweet.

One student’s buddy, who was very energetic and talkative, tapped me on the shoulder and asked me what town I was from. When I told him, he looked up haunted houses near that area.

“Are you spooked?” He asked. “I can tell you’re spooked.”

He was very fun to talk with. He continued on his way, asking other people where they were from and looking up haunted houses for them.

I ended up being paired with a different buddy for the next event, which was a pizza making session in the GAC (Glover Alston Center). She was a sweet older woman who kept her head shyly bowed for most of our interaction.

We made two pizzas together, and throughout our conversation I learned that she had a radio station and liked to watch movies. She told me that she lives with her brother and sister and that she liked the snow, especially for skiing. She asked me questions as well, like where I lived and if I knew how to drive.

I told her I did and asked if she’d ever wanted to learn.

She shook her head vigorously in response. “I don’t want to get a ticket,” was her explanation.

Our hour together sped by as we made pizzas and talked and colored in coloring books. At the end of the event, her brother came by to pick her up.

I was glad to have met her and learn a little bit about her life but was bummed out that though it might be our first interaction, because the semester is almost over, it could also very well be our last. I only wish I had joined the program a little bit sooner.


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