A Reflection on Mentoring

By Holly Thai

I’ve been a mentor at VillageBloggurls (VBG) for around 4 years. It’s a media based program where a mentor is matched up with  a couple mentees and the idea of mentorship and being a role model to them is applied. I joined this group back when I was in 10th grade and I’ve seen it grow bigger each and every year.

I joined midway through year one when there was already a few mentors and mentees in the group. However this didn’t stop me from feeling at home. I was instantly welcomed to the group and I also got to reacquaint with a few friends whom I haven’t had contact with since middle school. VBG very quickly felt like a second home. Everyone was very friendly and welcomed me with open arms. Soon, I looked forward to attending the group every Friday where we did activities together, which included things such as cooking, doing arts and crafts together, etc.

Over the years, VBG has helped me gain and/or improve a lot of my essential skills that are used in everyday life.  My communication skills, leadership skills, presentation skill, etc have all gotten better. This is all thanks to the mentor-led sessions that were held. In the beginning, the first few mentor-led sessions I ever did with other mentors were quite nerve-racking (and this was when the group smaller!). Presentations were never my thing, I never liked it and the whole idea of a mentor-led is like doing a presentation in front of your mentees. But after doing the actual mentor-led and getting the experience of talking in front of a crowd, I could see that my communication skills, etc were slowly improving. In time, I was no longer afraid of doing in class presentations nor did I use the words “uhm” or “and” as often.

The first mentee I worked with was Artiana. My very first impression after acknowledging this was, “will this work?” but very soon I was glad she was my mentee. She was everything I wasn’t, and our personality was made to match each other. We were loud and quite at the right times. In other words, she was the peanut butter to my jelly.

The best moment we had together was when we were working on Artiana’s digital story. I specifically remember in her digital story that she had this one line where it said, “She’s my guard and we shield each other.” When this was played during the digital story screening, everyone was in awe of how cute it was and I was just extremely proud to have her as a friend and a mentee.

Sadly, school slowly got in the way. It was hard to balance between school, homework, extracurricular, and personal life. And I believe to this day, I’m having the same exact problem but only worse because of midterm and exams. Poor time management leads to stress and stress leads to chaos. Because of this, my involvement with VBG slowly declined and I found it harder to maintain a relationship with my mentees. Luckily, we were in more solid groups this year but that’s no excuse for a weak relationship. All I can do is my best, and I’m glad that VBG works with me on that.

VBG has been a big part of my childhood. It was one of the things I looked forward to at the end of a week. I don’t regret joining VBG one bit because they’re all I could’ve asked for. Growing up with all these supportive people around me that I knew I could rely on and ask for help or assistance if needed is what every person wants as they grow up. It is an amazing program that has flourish over the years in an amazing direction with educating young girls about their rights and how society works. The memories I’ve made throughout the years at VBG whether it was at a workshop, or a trip will always be precious to me.

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A Reflection on Mentoring & Leadership

By Wendy Le

Village Bloggurls – a girls group to those on the outside, a safe space for those on the inside and the place where I saw myself grow up.

I was a naïve 10th grader who needed community service hours so that’s why I joined VBG at first. I remember when the group first started, there were only 2 people (Winnie and I). It may seem like an exaggeration now, but it’s true. Eventually, the group grew in numbers.

In the beginning of the program, we were testing out different methods of teaching and learning to get the hang of things and understand the purpose of the program and our role in it. It was in this moment that I had a change of heart. VBG became something I would look forward to. I went for my friends and to learn in a different environment that isn’t a classroom. It broadened my knowledge through media literacy perspectives such as how media portray women, how we should represent ourselves, and issues that affect women and the larger society.

The very first thing we did that was media-based was digital stories. Oh, the memories. I look back at it right now and I can see how far I’ve come. I was a someone who had trouble coping with mental illness without realizing I had one. Having a mental illness is one thing, but learning to cope with it is another. The support that this group provided me was more than I could ask for. From just asking how I am to having stress workshops for the mentors, I was able to create a digital story that was beneficial to myself and others in the sense that people should know that they are not alone. Non nobis solum, not for ourselves alone (My high school’s motto; hey, at least I remembered something!).

Soon, mentors were matched with mentees and it was a new experience for me. I felt like I would adapt easily since I had younger siblings. Never underestimate the the ability to learn from anyone of any age! The first mentee I worked with was Kayla and it was great experience. I thoroughly enjoyed spending time with her especially with all those jokes and how our personalities worked together. She never fails to surprise me. I was able to learn what it meant to be a mentor and experience the satisfaction of seeing your mentee grow as a person. Even though we now evolved into mentor groups instead of one-on-one mentor-mentee matches during the digital storytelling sessions, I am still able see the progression and the dynamics of each group member.

Mentor-led sessions helped me with my fear of public speaking and allowed me to learn what it meant to be a leader. I better understand all the tasks that come with leadership, such as organization and preparation before the program. I was able to learn from the mentors how each person would approach their mentor-led sessions and better my team building skills.

I also started taking initiative and did some TTC Advocacy work (that eventually got disbanded because my schedule is too hectic for me to handle). Never in a thousand years would I have expected myself to do this kind of work, but here I am trying my best to see if I can make some sort of impact in our society. If it weren’t for VBG, I doubt I would’ve done anything about it.

As cheesy as it is, they say high school is supposed to be the best 4 years of your life. I personally hated high school. But VBG made it a little more worthwhile. I was able to learn, improve and adapt skills that isn’t on the high school curriculum. As the years go on, whether or not we’re in school learning about what y = mx + b is or figuring out what the value of x is, I will never forget the value of VBG.