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Match of the Month

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Match of the Month

Liz Fierst & Laxmi Lama

Ms. Fierst is a Korean- American Teacher at Francisco Middle School who mentors Laxmi Lama, a seventh grader from Nepal.

Ms. Fierst has been teaching sixth grade Language Arts and Social Studies at Francisco for five years. She began as a mentor in Francisco’s Buddy Program over two years ago.

Please tell me one interesting fact about yourself...

LL: I just learned to ride a skateboard. I can ride a scooter and a bike. I got a bike when I participated in the after school bike program—it’s at my house.

Ms. Fierst: You can do a lot with wheels, huh?

LL: I’m not afraid of heights. And I help my mom at home—doing dishes, cooking. I help friends and others I don’t know, I have lots of friends like.

Ms. F: She could write a book about herself. I’ve lived out of the country twice in my life. I love to hike and backpack, and cook. I’m game for anything outdoors.

LL: Like biking, remember?

Ms. Fierst: Yes, we went biking in Tennessee Valley. We just talked about this.

How did you join the mentoring program?

LL: Ms. Jen told me about the program, I liked the sound of it and the next day at lunch we had a puzzle piece—we had to find the person who had the piece that matched ours to find who our mentor was.

LL: Another interesting thing—I’m from Nepal and she’s been there.

Ms. Fierst: Yes, we had that in common.

How did you feel before the mentoring started?

LL: Part of me was scared, happy, weird. Scared and weird because I didn’t know anyone.

Ms. Fierst: She’s not shy now! I’d started the year before with an eighth grader who graduated. I met Laxmi with another student who left the school. And since Laxmi was new to the school and Ms. Jen knew we had Nepal in common, she matched us.

LL: I love Korean movies—the love stories are really good. I love “love stories.” Playful Kiss is a good one.

Ms. Firest: That’s your latest interest, isn’t it?

What activities have the two of you done together?

Ms. Fierst:  We usually meet weekly during lunch. Luckily both years we’ve had the same lunch. Some of the things we’ve enjoyed are the bike trips in the Spring. I went to her family’s house last year for a special dinner. It was to celebrate a Nepali holiday so I got to share all kinds of Nepali specialties with Laxmi’s family and friends. Her family keeps in touch with the greater Nepali community. Laxmi does a lot of Nepali dance and I went to one of her performances downtown.

LL: I just danced out of San Francisco for a Valentine’s Day event. It was really nice—all the married couples walked together. The guys had a rose and they gave it to their wives, and they said something nice to them. It was really fun! I dance with my sixth grade cousin too.

We’ve been matched about two years now. In November we went to the Day of the Dead Concert at the SF Symphony.

Ms. Fierst: Yes, you saw the Principal. Some of the students, faculty, and staff went. She was surprised to see people from the Francisco community there. We’d had a Day of the Dead activity with the Buddy program that week. We’re doing one next week during lunch. I loved biking. Some kids were hiking there and some were riding. When we got to the beach I was playing in the water and got wet.

Ms. Fierst: I liked it too—it was a really fun event. I think the most favorite though was when I got the chance to go to Laxmi’s home—it was really special to me. I’d met her mom and sister before but I hadn’t met her dad before that. It was special to see her in her own environment with her family and friends.

LL: We had a special event last night. Me and the other kids watched a Hindi horror movie. I got so scared I didn’t finish watching it. My aunt gave me another horror flick but I’m not sure I can watch it. I want to be a cop. I want to be a brave girl.

Now that you have known each other for some time has anything surprised you?

Ms. Fierst: I didn’t have expectations—I was excited even though I work with students every day. This is a special match. I had a little anxiety to see what her personality might be like, and whether or not we would click.

LL: It surprised me when new people began joining the Buddy Program.

Ms. Fierst: The longer we know each other the more we find out we have in common. It’s what makes our relationship so successful. How about between us, Laxmi? Anything stand out?

LL: Remember when we first went on the biking fieldtrip? At first in the morning your voice was really low, and then it got louder. Maybe you were sleepy. I don’t like waking up at  seven in the morning.

Ms. Fierst: Yeah, you weren’t as talkative that day either.

It’s been really neat to be together for one-and-a-half years. I’ve been able to see changes in her already. I’m really interested to see where she goes to high school and where that brings her.


What are you looking forward to doing together in the future?

LL: When I’m in high school or college I’ll come back and visit Ms. Fierst.

Ms. Fierst: It’s kind of nice—it’s routine and I really look forward to it. Over the last two weeks we missed our lunch times together. We see each other three or four times per week because her locker’s right outside my door. But when our schedule got changed I missed her.  I look forward to spending regular time together, to see how her interests change over time, and maybe talk about other outside activities, maybe camping.

LL: My family went camping once at the American River.


Do you have any advice to give to mentors or mentees who have just begun their relationships?

LL: It’s really fun.

Ms. Fierst: What would you tell them, for advice?

LL: Don’t be scared. Like when I came here the first time. You don’t have to be embarrassed or shy. It’s really fun to do activities. Don’t be afraid, be polite, don’t be rude.

Ms. Fierst: To an adult mentor I’d tell them to find a time you can both meet and set a regular time. It’s very easy to not meet with busy schedules so having a set time and day is really helpful. Also, be open to hearing and learning from the youth in a different way, from a different perspective. How I am with Laxmi is different from how I am with my students. Find things in common and make something happen from them.


Match of the Month
Periodically we select a mentor-mentee match to highlight success in action.


Mentoring For Success Logo Shout Outs!Match of the Month

Student, Family and Community Support DepartmentSan Francisco Unified School District