Sometimes when you meet someone, you don’t realize how important they will become to you. Living in the moment and spending time with them, you don’t necessarily think anything of it. But when you look back and think about your relationship and growth, you understand that there was something special. For Paige and Amanda, this sentiment holds true.
In 2015, Amanda decided to sign up to be a big sister to a Chai Warrior. Paired with Paige, who is six years her junior, they got off to an embarrassing start. The activity – provided by Chai – that Amanda brought to Paige’s house, came without instructions. Trying to make a clay photo frame with no instructions definitely gave Paige an interesting first impression of Amanda, but they laughed about it and it’s since become a long-running inside joke between them.
As is often the case in the “getting to know you” phase, Amanda and Paige’s first few meetings were exactly that—meetings. They were formal as they enjoyed lots of art and other activities together, but the activities acted as a buffer. As time went on, however, their meetings turned into hangouts. They did fewer formal activities and more socializing, getting so close to the point that Amanda even joined Paige on Paige’s middle school grad trip to Montreal! It was a unique bonding experience that truly solidified their sisterhood.
When asked to recall their most special moments with each other, their memories show just how many amazing experiences they have shared together. For Paige, it was any trip that they got to take together. Since they always hang out, it just felt natural for her to have Amanda join. For Amanda, two special moments stand out.
The first was when Amanda attended Camp Simcha Special with Paige in 2019. It was extra special because Paige had already spent several summers there and was able to be Amanda’s guide and show her the ropes. They had many DMCs (Deep Meaningful Conversations) while watching the sunset, which is Amanda’s highlight of that summer.
Amanda’s other memorable moment occurred earlier in their friendship, in November 2017. Paige’s bat mitzvah took place on a Saturday night, so her family planned to have a havdalah ceremony. Since Paige can’t hold or light a candle, they asked Amanda to stand on the stage with Paige and hold the candle.
It was an honour for Amanda to share that close experience with Paige and she looks back on it fondly.
This month, Amanda started medical school in New York City and will be separated from Paige for the foreseeable future. Paige finds it bittersweet because while she’s happy that Amanda is going to fulfill her dream of becoming a doctor, she’s sad that they won’t be living down the street from each other anymore and hanging out as often. Amanda feels the same— she has wanted to be a doctor for a long time but is sad to leave Paige. They both know, however, that they will stay in touch and have planned to do weekly Facetime calls!
Even though Chai Lifeline is where Paige and Amanda met, it’s not where their friendship will end (which is what we at Chai always hope for). They don’t even hang out as formal Chai sisters anymore because they have a genuine friendship and sister-like bond. Since the two are a Chai success story, they wanted to give some advice to new members of the Big Sibling program. According to Paige, “You have to be willing to see it as a friendship and let it be a relationship.” It shouldn’t just be a way to get volunteer hours or feel like an obligation. If you’re doing it, do it for real.
So, what’s next? As Amanda embarks on her path to becoming a family doctor, she’s looking forward to a future practice of treating people, as opposed to patients. This approach is inspired partially by Paige and her medical experiences. Paige will be entering grade 12 this coming year, where she will be leading Tikvah Club along with two classmates and a staff advisor. Tikvah Club focuses on disability, inclusion and awareness and has about 15-20 students involved. With Paige leading them, they will be running different events at school, such as seminars and assemblies, all to educate students about the topic of disability and inclusion. After high school, Paige plans to study in Israel for a year and then go to university to study education. She hopes to work in the Jewish day school system in the future and to make it more accessible for all students. Based on her own experiences, Paige knows she needs to, and can, make the necessary changes. Amanda, as well as we at Chai, have no doubt she will do it!
Although this may be the end of an era for Paige and Amanda, they’re excited for what the future holds for their friendship. The timing of when they met was meant to be because it was a busy time for them both, but they were able to make it work. They are sure they can do it again!
Paige had some parting words for Chai:
Paige, we’re so grateful for you and the example you set for young people every day. We can’t wait to see what the future holds for you and we are sure you will change the world!
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