Mentoring Youth Makes a Difference
“I found my own true voice”
I am a big believer in therapy but was not so sure about mentoring. I took it on as a job because it would look good on my resume. I remember feeling a bit lost when I first started mentoring. I could not see how this type of relationship would bring about change.
On the one hand, Aliza*(pseudonym) is a sweet, personable and lovable kind of girl. Working with her was great. Spending time with her was sometimes relaxing and also enjoyable for me. It was fun! We shared good jokes, sang together etc. On the other hand, Aliza challenged me with her thought provoking questions and sharp mind. I had to think a lot before responding. It was also difficult to hear about the trauma she went through. It was painful for me. She had a lot of challenges with different family members and I wasn’t always sure how to respond.
Mentoring is a powerful tool and has the ability to really make a difference. Aliza challenged me in many ways. She is a smart talented girl who’s been through a lot. Through the course of the relationship Aliza gained confidence in herself, and became more comfortable in social settings. She had a better attitude toward School and her academic grades improved. She learned to be more assertive and learned how to express her feelings. She found her ‘’own true voice’’ and learned to express it even when it was different than the voices of those around her. Aliza learned how to create long-term close relationships. Her relationship with her family improved and she learned how to cope better with uncomfortable family situations.
I did not only make a difference in Aliza’s life, the mentoring process made a difference in my life. We were together for 2 years and in that time I learned about my own strengths and weaknesses. I learned about the different challenges teens face in the world today. Even though it seems like yesterday that I was a teenager, the world has changed and the challenges teenagers face are different. These changes affect the way they deal with normal teen issues as well as the traumatic issues that Aliza faced.
I learned that mentoring can be so helpful and can really fill in the gaps that therapy can’t fill and can accomplish things that therapy can’t accomplish. Mentoring a teen requires being consistent, available and very patient. It requires putting your needs aside many times for the sake of the child you are working with. That’s not always so easy!
Thank you Sima Gordon, the mentoring supervisor, and Kav L’Noar for the opportunity to make a difference and providing me with the understanding that change can come through a nurturing mentoring relationship even though it does not seem possible at first.
*names are changed to protect privacy