January is National Mentoring Month, and we are highlighting a number of perspectives on mentoring, events, and ways you can get involved in the field. Today’s blog is a Q&A with Stacey, a mentor at Cambridge Family & Children's Service. Stacey has mentored Keiana for three and a half years.
- What life challenges did your mentee face before you met?
Keiana didn't have a major challenge to overcome in school or with her attitude. Her biggest challenge has been staying productively occupied and happy at her grandma's apartment, where she and her two brothers spend most of their time outside of school. They don't have a lot to do there, and they don't share fluency in a common language with their grandma, so they get bored and squabble and wish that their mom didn't have to work so much.
- How did your mentee begin to overcome these challenges as a result of the mentoring relationship?
Keiana loves to get out of that apartment and see new places and have new experiences. She sees that there's a whole world out there that eventually she'll get to navigate, with many more choices than are available to her now. This year, she's started to be able to do that independently too, going to the library or to visit with friends.
- What have been the biggest benefits for you - the mentor - as a result of your relationship?
I get to spend time with a great kiddo nearly every weekend. I love talking with her and being with her. She brings me out into the world to do lots of things I'd otherwise miss. She's so much fun to be around because, whenever we do something new to her, I get to experience it as if it were new to me, too. I love introducing her to new places and things, and learning about which ones she loves that might become part of her life going forward.
- What has your mentee learned or gained from the relationship?
Keiana says she wouldn't have known what college she wanted to go to or what career she wanted when she got older. She also says that she has me to help her do her homework and work harder in school, so that she can be whatever she wants to be when she's older - like a vet tech, a technical support representative, or a fashion designer!
- What are your favorite activities to do together and how have they changed over time?
Keiana's favorite has always been swimming. So her favorite hasn't changed, but her ability has. She's become such a strong swimmer since I first met her! She likes to do handstands and backflips in the water, too. We also love bike-riding, and she's gotten better at that, too. Once, we rode from Arlington to Lexington together on the bike path, and Keiana wore the helmet we got from a program for her. We also like doing lots of baking, cooking, and arts and crafts. Keiana thinks up great, imaginative arts and crafts projects.
- Looking into the future, what are your wishes for each other or for your relationship? Note any goals you have set together.
We hope we'll be matched for years more, and keep seeing each other almost every weekend. Keiana used to not know about going to college, but now she hopes to go somewhere in the area - maybe Boston University or an area school with a good Vet Tech program (which is a career I first told her about). So, we hope we'll stay close at least until then, and if she does stay in the Boston area, then even beyond!