Sponsorship can help expand our world, teaching us about a culture and background very different from our own. It can also make the world feel a little smaller, showing us the ways we are the same. The latter was the case for Brynn Murray and Marly Rivera when they met earlier this month, after writing letters since 2011.
Being a girl soccer player. Navigating cliques at school. Reading Twilight. Loving the band One Direction. All came up in conversation during their hour-long visit. The girls, both 14 and in eighth grade, were a bit shy at first. But it wasn’t long before they were asking questions and chattering away like old friends.
When they talked about Common Hope’s youth program, Marly said she doesn’t go, because she doesn’t know many people there, and it can feel cliquey. Brynn identified with this but shared her strategy for getting past it — when she wants to go to events like this, she takes a friend along. They usually know different people, Brynn explained, so she leaves with more friends than she came with.
When talking about playing soccer, Marly said many people have told her soccer isn’t a girl’s sport. Brynn assured her it most definitely is. When Brynn presented the book Twilight as a gift, Marly got very excited — she has seen all the movies and loves them. So Brynn asked a key question for Twilight fans: “Are you team Jacob or Edward?” Marly replied without missing a beat: “Team Jacob! Edward is ugly.”
The visit flew by, filled with laughter. Brynn said it was the highlight of her trip, and she couldn’t wait to get home to tell her friends. The connection between the girls clearly touched everyone in attendance, which included Marly’s family and Brynn’s mother and aunt. “It is amazing to me,” said Marly’s dad, Juan Francisco, “that two teenagers from different parts of the world, from two different cultures, have so much in common — the way they talk and express themselves, their interests, everything. It’s just incredible.”
Brynn sponsors Marly along with her grandmother, Judy Nelson, who suggested they sponsor together for a school service project Brynn does each year. Many thanks to both of them for their generosity.