Empowerment through mentoring at Mississippi SEEK

The Jackson, Mississippi SEEK camp was special. Mentor Jennifer Larbi of the Boston University Chapter reflects on her experience:

After returning from my semester abroad, I had an amazing opportunity to become a mentor. Not just any mentor, however, but a mentor to African American girls in an elementary school in Mississippi. This was one of the most rewarding experience I had yet. The chance to explore the southern culture and reach out to the community there was great.

As a mentor in the Jackson, Mississippi SEEK camp, I came across some girls who had so much potential. Each girl was bright and had the ability to do whatever they put their mind to. There was one girl that inspired me in particular. She was misbehaved a lot in class and struggled with the concepts being taught. During recess, I would teach some dances and steps that I performed for them in the school. This opened the doorway to a friendship with her. She became more comfortable with me after seeing that we shared the same interest and opened up to me about her life. Throughout the program, she became more engaged and wanted to participate more. In the end, her post test showed major improvement; she scored second highest in the class. She gave me a going away present, a necklace in favorite color and wrote a card saying: “I want to be like you, Ms. Jennifer.”

Those words have stuck with me until this day. I was more than her teacher in the classroom, I was a role model. I was someone she aspired to be like someday. The other mentors, who were also African American girls from all over the United States at different stages of their lives, were a motivation for me. Not only was I an African American college student teaching younger girls, I was also learning from my peers and those who were older than me that paved the way. I was amongst other females who understood the inner struggles and personal issues that we, as African American women, must go through to reach our dreams. Being part of such a powerful movement was a unique experience that I will forever be grateful to have done.