Mentoring Comes to EwB
In 2021, Education without Borders (EwB) established a mentoring program for a select number of students currently enrolled in EwB’s after-school program – connecting adult mentors in North America with mentees in South Africa. The goal of this mentorship program is for each mentor-mentee pairing to develop bonds, exchange ideas, and together navigate the challenges students face now, and will encounter, when the mentees leave school. This 1-year program launched with five pairings, and meetings were held virtually through Zoom or WhatsApp weekly, bi-weekly or monthly depending on the needs and availability of the mentors and mentees. Topics covered a wide range of areas such as school, careers, family issues, as well as how to improve communication skills, since English is not the first language of most of the mentees.
“Finding suitable mentors for the program has been fairly easy,” says Cy Charney, who coordinates the program from Toronto, Canada. “Many expats who are now retired would love nothing more than to reconnect with South Africans as a way of giving back and staying in touch.”
Once matched, the mentoring process requires each pair to meet regularly and work systematically towards a goal. Cy Charney further explains that the ideal mentor isn’t only someone with good intentions, but someone who is empathetic, a good listener, free of bias and has a generous spirit. While the mentor might offer advice and tell stories, much of the exchange is through listening and asking challenging questions.
Building on the lessons from 2021, EwB hopes to expand the program to up to 10 pairings in 2022, reinforcing EwB’s goal to develop the youth in South Africa as they face a challenging future. To extend the program’s reach, EwB will soon be launching a mentoring program for EwB staff in South Africa, who will be connected with mentors in North America. If you are interested in becoming a mentor, connect with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.