The Buddy Program -- Switching Lenses
To say that working on the Buddy Program these past two and a half years has been the best part of my Whitman experience thus far, would be a vast understatement. From experiencing Mary's joy and laughter when she points out that I'm being "silly" while we dance wildly to N'Sync at the Winter Ball, to hearing of Ben's family life and watching his mother and sister perform in their local plays, each buddy that I have gotten to know has truly touched my life.
In a matter of months, the 28 Walla Walla buddies who are a part of our program have taught me so much more than I have learned in a classroom. Whatever misconceptions I held a few years ago about the capabilities (or lack of abilities) of individuals with disabilities have completely disappeared. I've had the opportunity to see my newfound friends thrive in their community while working independent jobs and living on their own.
My new friends have allowed me to view the world through a different lens-their lens. These buddies have taught me to not be afraid to laugh at myself when I make mistakes, which I do quite often. They've pushed me to value and appreciate the small joys in life, no matter how trivial. And they've reminded me that a friendship date is just as important for your health as a yearly check-up.
I am so blessed to have made 28 new friendships in the past two and a half years that truly defy the norm. I am extremely grateful for the parents and families that put their trust in Whitman College so that we could create a program that was beneficial for not only the Walla Walla community, but Whitman students as well. But most of all, I am thankful for the Walla Walla buddies who have reminded me what truly matters in life-friendship.