Mentoring Mentor and Mentee

The school year is just about over, one more week to go.

I’ve fulfilled my mentoring commitment for now.  I look forward to continuing it again.

I didn’t get enough of it!  I would have liked more hours a couple of times a week.  Maybe next time I’ll have a better understanding of the program and can exploit it more on behalf of my mentee.

There’s an initial awkwardness to overcome for both parties.  They know they’re the “kid” and you’re the “MENTOR” but the meaning of that term is unclear for the kid, so you’re probably another grownup authority figure meddling in their  life.

From what I’ve heard, my mentee is different.  Sixth grader, 12 years old, male.  But, he got a star student award recently, is well spoken, well mannered, vibrant, generally well behaved.  I think most us mentors expect to get a “troubled youth” and some do, but I didn’t.  Sure, his grades in a couple of subjects need improvement, but with his character and consciousness, that will come.  He does not have a “thug” mindset.  I’m sure his home life contributes to his genteel attitude.  Right on Mom and Dad!

So, I looked to establish that as the “MENTOR” I was not going to bust his chops about schoolwork.  His time with me should be a welcome break from the rote of the average school day.  I would also not push empty platitudes on him.  We’d meet, have lunch together, speak a little about ourselves, share interests and questions, and he’d go back to class nourished and refreshed.  As that got settled and we established some trust, we sometimes got to quizzing each other on math. “Oh yeah, whats four times eight minus ten?” and you have to answer fast.  He was pretty good, and gonna get better.  I shared that at  my house we read a lot. I shamelessly encouraged him not just to read but to develop good reading skills and habits.  I told him “if you read, can remember what you read, and add it to something else you read, you can then teach yourself anything you want, any time you want!”

We started to learn to juggle.  He hasn’t kept up his  practice but we’ll revisit that.  We managed to do some Kali eye hand coordination training; he can do a Redonda, a single stick single Sinawali, and we started a six count entry drill that grown ups have a hard time with, and he got the gist of it in one short session!

We started to play chess and he’s picked that up fast too.

IMG_2199 He got this dog tag from a Red Tails exhibit at his school.  I told him that this is “self talk,” something people do to keep in their minds principals that are important to them.

I especially focused on “use your brain” and “never quit.”

Another aspect of our relationship is that we speak bilingually, though I encourage  mastering English because “that’s the language of where you are.”   However, we have  dabbled in a few Japanese phrases.

I can’t wait to continue with my mentee.  I read a quote recently that said “Education is when the mind expands, not when the mind memorizes.”  School requires a lot of memorization, I told him that, and that he has to memorize formulas, numbers, names, dates, etc.,  not to consider that the hard part. Using your mind to put those together for a purpose that’s where others fall short

If he’ll have me, we’ll expand our minds, and my chess will get better too!


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