Big Sibling Program
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
77 Massachusetts Ave, 50-005 Cambridge, MA 02139-4307
ph: 617-253-7990, 617-452-3499,


About the Big Sibling Program

Other similar Big Sibling programs

Apply to be a Big Sibling
FAQ's for Big Sibling applicants

Apply for a Big Sibling

Frequently Asked Questions for family applicants

  About the Big Sibling Program @ MIT

The Big Sibling Program is new to MIT as of 2002-3, thanks to a collaboration between Adoptive Families at MIT (AFMIT), the Hosts to the International Students Program (HISP), and the Graduate Student Council.

The intent of the program is to provide an opportunity for positive interaction between an MIT student and a child who has been adopted internationally or transracially.  Ideally the Big Sibling will serve as a point of contact with the child's cultural heritage, will help the child in learning to navigate cultural issues that may arise in his or her life, and will be a resource in building a healthy identity.   The child may or may not speak the language of his or her native country ~ that will vary with each child and will depend, usually, on the age at which the child was adopted.

The idea of a Big Sibling Program began at Phillips-Exeter Academy about 3 years ago.  The Phillips-Exeter Program was initiated by Grace Sur, a student at Phillips, and a local adoption support group.  There are currently about 40 families involved in the Phillips Exeter area, and the program has been infinitely rewarding for both students and adoptive families.  Students meet with families on a casual basis or for specific events (i.e. Big Siblings teaching adoptive parents traditional cooking), but, primarily "the relationship has been about seeing a familiar face, someone with similar roots."  The program has also grown and expanded to many other colleges and universites - including Dartmouth.

Last spring (June 2, 2002) in The Boston Globe printed an article that discussed the Big Sibling Program at Phillips Exeter.  Here is a link to the article:
"Roots Help Widen These Family Circles"

Big sibling relationships provide not only a cultural connection for an adopted child, but also an opportunity for the adoptee's family to learn more about the adoptee's culture of origin and to become more racially aware.  It is to be expected that children age four and older are more likely themselves to benefit directly from the contact with a big sibling, whereas in cases where the adoptee is under four, the primary benefit will accrue to other family members.  Of course, should the big sibling connection continue for several years, the nature of the relationships will undoubtably change.

If you are interested in becoming a Big Sibling or if you would like to have a Big Sibling for your adopted child, you should begin by applying to the Program using one of the two application forms:
Big Sibling Application (for students)
Big Sibling Family Application (for adoptive families)

In applying, students should indicate if they are willing to be matched with an adoptee under four years old; and families should keep in mind that it may take a bit longer to find a big sibling for a very young child.

Further information is also available on the Big Sib FAQ sites listed in the bar to the left.  
If you have further questions, please contact:
Diane Tavitian
Kristin Gunst



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The page was last modified on Thursday, November 14, 2002