Okay, I realize that title might be a bit deceiving. I don’t really have a “real” little sister. But I did have a sister about 11 years ago in college: a Little Sister with Big Brothers/ Big Sisters. And I just found her on Facebook, 11 years later! It’s a long story. Let me start at the beginning.
When I was a freshman in college at Emory and Henry, two of my friends and I decided to become Big Brothers/ Big Sisters. We were all three matched with a family of three girls…5, 8, and 11. I was matched with the middle sister, Amber. It was wonderful having my close friends matched with the entire family…we often did things together. The “Littles” quickly became a HUGE part of our lives on campus. We saw them at least once a week, and they frequently spent the night or traveled with us. I even took Amber home over a few holidays and on vacation to the beach with me. As I look back through my college scrap book, her face is everywhere: bowling, skating, plays, amusement parks, playgrounds, the beach, sledding on cafeteria trays, reading, painting, making Easter eggs, celebrating Christmas, PTA programs, and on and on. We were matched all four years, and she came to graduation. However after graduation through uncontrollable family circumstances on her end, I lost her. By then she was about 13.
Because she was such a big part of my life, I continued to wonder where she was and how she was doing. My old friends would often ask about her…she’d become such a big part of my life for those four years.
Then, this past summer, I decided to join Facebook. Yes, that horrible “unsafe” world that we hear about over and over in Internet Safety programs. I originally felt that I just needed to know what it was all about since technology is my job. I quickly found out how powerful it could be, but in a good way. I learned that it was a wonderful way to get in touch with old friends and even family located in far away places. I found my close high school friends, my cousin in China, my college buddies. I was able to see family pictures of my friends and family, and get to know my step-mother’s side of the family much better.
But then it happened! One of my college Big Sister friends found me there and THAT started a ball rolling that ended up with me finally finding Amber again after 11 years, despite her new married name.
The first time I heard from her, I cried. I had been so worried about her all these years, but to find out that she’s okay totally made me so happy, and brought back all those wonderful memories from college. I was able to see pictures of her family…her 2 year old son, her husband, and her trip to Disney World and to St. Augustine. We have talked back and forth, and I found out she’s now a nurse–and LPN on top of that. I’m so very proud of her, and so very relieved to be back in touch. Next month I’m going to visit–she only lives 2 1/2 hours away. I can’t tell you how happy I am to have found her again!
Now, I’m not advocating that minors should join Facebook, or that you should post whatever you want on your Facebook page, or allow anyone and everyone to see your personal information. Not at all. Whenever we post on the internet, we should take internet safety very seriously. In Facebook, though, there are security settings that allow you too keep your pictures and information private to everyone but your friends, if you want. Facebook also recommends that you only become friends with people you know in person. I think that’s a great recommendation.
But I did want you to know that there are some very good things about social networking…and that it can, if used correctly, really enhance or rekindle real live relationships. I can offer many stories to support this claim, but finding my long lost Little Sister is definitely, by far, my favorite!