A Mentor and a Friend

Ky-Antre Compton with his mentor, Stewart Chittenden, in Omaha.

Ky-Antre Compton with his mentor, Stewart Chittenden, in Omaha. StoryCorps hide caption

itoggle caption StoryCorps

Ky-Antre Compton and Stuart Chittenden aren't the most likely of friends. There are 27 years between them. But after one year of friendship, there is no end in sight.

Compton, 11, and Chittenden, 38, met a year ago through the youth mentoring program Big Brothers/Big Sisters.

At first, Compton says, he was not excited.

"When I first met you, I thought this was going to be so boring, that this was going to ruin my whole summer, my whole life," he says.

But their relationship grew.

"You taught me respect. You taught me how to be mature," Compton says. "You taught me how to be a young man."

Compton says he asks Chittenden all the time why he acts the way he does — why he is polite, why he is respectful.

"I understand that you're just trying to be a good mentor to me, and I love that," Compton says.

The positive examples Chittenden has set, even when he "screwed up," are important models for Compton.

"You taught me that it's OK to make mistakes, it's OK to get mad," Compton says. "But it's just not OK to get out of control."

Chittenden worries about making the most of his life. He is, according to Compton.

"I can tell you one thing: You're the best role model I ever had," Compton says.

They learn from each other. Teaching each other things brings them closer together, Compton says.

"I want you to know that this isn't a one-way relationship," Chittenden says to Compton. "I'm learning how to be fun and engaging and open, and so I want to thank you for that, Ky-Antre."

Their friendship might last long after Compton has grown up.

"Do you think we'll be friends for a long time?" Chittenden asks.

"I think we're going to be brothers for a long time," Compton says.

Produced for Morning Edition by Katie Simon. The senior producer of StoryCorps is Michael Garofalo.

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