Who’s Your Sister? RAs Display How to be a Good Neighbor

In freshmen female dorms, first floor Parrott and fourth floor Williams become the first on campus to start Secret Sisters, a summer-camp experience, to pair residents with each other as a source of encouragement.

Ruth Nicholson is a Residential Assistant on the first floor of Parrott. Nicholson is the person responsible for bringing Secret Sisters to Olivet. Ruth was inspired to start Secret Sisters by something similar she took part in while working at a camp this past summer. RAs can pair each of their residents with a Secret Sister, usually a person outside of that student’s comfort zone. Residents are then supposed to anonymously find fun, creative ways to encourage their Secret Sister on a regular basis.

“It leads them to encourage one another and to get to know someone they really don’t know,” Nicholson says. “I love seeing on their Snapchats that they got a coffee or a note at the right time. It’s really encouraging.”

It’s the little things that make a big difference. Thoughtfulness through participation in small acts of kindness, for a neighbor who they don’t even know, and without expecting anything in return, creates a more caring and aware atmosphere.

“Words of encouragement make a difference,” Dakota Graham, Williams Hall third floor resident says.

Graham praises the practice of Secret Sisters and hopes for her floor to join in and begin doing the same thing.

“Just to have someone who is looking out for your best interest and make you want to spread that encouragement as well would be special,” Graham says. “Notes sent to you could be like words from God into your life.”

Two months after Nicholson had initiated Secret Sisters on Parrott first floor, it began to catch on.

Now, Kassie Ross, a fourth floor Williams RA, has adopted the idea as well. Strategically, Ross assigned each resident to a random neighbor in their hall that they would become a Secret Sister to.

“I got to see for two months who talked to who and who didn’t, and I put them together that way,” Ross says. “It makes it fun not knowing who it is getting these notes, letters, and gifts. It forces you to kind of think about it.”

Secret Sisters brings people together in a rare way. This type of encouragement is powerful when residents can become aware and inclusive of someone they would not typically be thinking of, or even know.

“I think it teaches them, in a way, how to give back,” Ross says. She stresses the impact in, “learning to encourage people you might not normally.”

Giving girls the purpose of being a Secret Sister to someone in their hall changes the atmosphere of a dorm and “makes for a better experience that brings them together,” Ross states.

Secret Sisters extends important values and lessons that otherwise might remain underestimated. This anonymous system of encouragement has a great impact in making girls feel united, loved, and considered.

While Nicholson’s floor will host a Christmas reveal party next month, Ross plans to go the whole year before having her residents find out who their Secret Sister is.

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