Big Sister Honored for Dedication

by Melissa Vigil (Rio Grande Sun

 Guru Simran Kaur Khalsa and Espanola Middle School seventh-grader Taishanna Sanchez pose for a picture last week. Khalsa was named Northern New Mexico Big Sister of the Year by the Big Brothers Big Sisters organization for her work with Sanchez.

Rio Arriba County resident Guru Simran Kaur Khalsa was named the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northern New Mexico School-Based Big Sister of the Year for her long-term commitment to Espanola Middle School seventh-grader Taishanna Sanchez.

Through the Big Brothers Big Sisters organization, Khalsa has been meeting with Sanchez every week since she was in second grade.

Sanchez's elementary school proposed a match through the Big Brothers Big Sisters program, which selected Khalsa. Sanchez's grandmother Marie approved it.

"We have a lot of fun," Khalsa said. "It's changing my daily life. It keeps me young and I'm just enjoying it. Every year we do so many different things. I always look forward to coming and being here with her."

It's been six years since Khalsa was matched to Sanchez, and the two still meet weekly for lunch during the school year.

Sanchez enjoys the time she gets to spend with her Big Sister.

"We love to research on something for fun," Sanchez said. "We go to the library and spend time researching on the computer."

Currently, Sanchez's interest is on the country and culture of Japan.

"Right now everything's in Japan," Khalsa said. "That's what she reads and talks about. We do whatever comes up and every year it's different. Last year it was the Titanic, this year it's Japan, next year who knows?"

Sanchez is fascinated by the anime cartooning of Japan and hopes to see her work on a television show.

"When I grow up I want to be an animator and create my own show called 'Full Metal Alchemist: Good vs. Evil,"' Sanchez said. "I like to do it for fun. I'm not in it for the money, just for the fun. I like how (the characters) talk and show (emotions) and do martial arts, which is awesome."

Khalsa supports Sanchez's goal.

"It's nice to have big dreams," she said.

Khalsa is also a big supporter of the school-based mentoring program Big Brothers Big Sisters has created.

"I think lunch buddies is a great program," she said. "If you inspire and encourage them, the kids will be so much more confident. (Sanchez) is much more confident than when she was little. I've enjoyed seeing how much she's grown and improved over the years (and) it's been fun to see that. Fun is my biggest reason for doing this."


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