Shared culture creates a bond that transcends everyday interactions, as culture resides in the heart and soul. This kind of deep connection can be found between Sydney and her family, and their Family Educator, Alison. Native American tradition and identity have always been important to Sydney and her husband. In fact, it’s what brought them to Minneapolis—they wanted to learn the Dakota language and traditions so they could immerse their future children in their own culture.
After giving birth to her first child, Sydney pursued a degree in psychology. However, after having her second child a year later, she began to feel the pressure of all her responsibilities. “I would be given the choice to interact with my children or do my homework. Sometimes I would even have to work my part-time job, so some nights I would be doing homework until 2 a.m., and then I would have to wake up early in the morning and do it all over again with a smile. It wasn’t working well,” Sydney recalls. She credits a strong support system that included her Family Educator, Alison, and her husband as essential to getting through that tough time. Since then, the three have continued to work together to ensure the couple’s now four children have access to opportunities.
“If I need something, have a question, or want some advice, I pick up my phone and give Alison a call, and she always has an answer for me,” Sydney explains. Yet Alison is more than just another resource for the family—she truly understands Sydney and the goals she has for her family. “Having Alison, having a native person as my Family Educator, has positively contributed to my experience at Way to Grow. There is something about sharing a culture; she just understands where I am coming from and what I am going through,” Sydney expresses. “She makes it easy and comfortable.”
Knowing that other cultures and community opportunities are abundant in Minneapolis, it was important for Sydney to have her family experience as many as possible, something Alison and Way to Grow have helped them to do. “Alison and Way to Grow give us access to resources, opportunities, and events that we never would have been able to experience otherwise. They have been able to show us what community really is, and we are so grateful.”