Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Today's Question: Why are Mentors So Important?

Yesterday was my last day as a mentor in a school-based program with Big Brothers Big Sisters. For our last session, I had to write a letter to my mentee--I thought about how to provide great wisdom to her as she enters high school and reflect on the 50 minutes per week that we spent together during the school year, etc. Instead, my letter discussed the things that I learned from her--junior high is difficult, getting along with your mom is rough, dealing with peer pressure can be challenging and trying to fit in isn't always so easy.

Sometimes you just need someone (who you trust) to talk to--whether it's about personal or professional road blocks. Your mentor does not have to be exactly the same as you--in fact, it probably works better if they have a different perspective on things from time to time. The key is respect each other's opinions. My time with a 14 year-old middle school student inspired me to find pleasure in the little things in life that are often overlooked. My weekly visits gave me time to decompress and talk about geometry and boyfriends, movies and weekend adventures.

I guess at the end of the school year, I realized that I learned as much from my mentee as she did from me. Maybe it should be called Project Friendship instead of Project Mentor.

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