October 25, 2013

What do you get when you combine 60 junior high students, 60 community college students, a few teachers, and a gym? A little bit of chaos, a lot to clean up, and the slow, subtle formation of friendships. 


Over the course of the last three weeks, One2One staff has guided students and mentors through the first part of the mentoring year: the matching process. Students and mentors participated in team challenges, toilet paper mummy contests, and rapid fire questions, all while mentors systematically rotated between students in what has been affectionately labeled as “mentor speed dating.” Behind each weekly activity is a deliberate strategy to minimize student vulnerability and empower them to identify and select a mentor they like. To accomplish this goal staff collected student feedback each week and used it to pair each student up with their mentor. 


This year, like last year, much of the students’ feedback in week one began timidly. Responding to the question of which mentor they would like to be paired with, many students initially answered with a tentative “I don’t know.” Their attitudes quickly shifted, though, after spending the next two weeks with mentors. After the matches were revealed, one of the mentors confided in staff how nervous she was to see her student’s reaction, but with a growing smile she told the story of her student’s response. When her student found out she was her mentor, she told her “I didn’t think I’d get my favorite mentor, but I did, I got you!” 


The excitement, for us, comes in both of these experiences. When a student becomes elated to have a mentor in their life we see that as a victory. But, it is also significant when a mentor willingly embraces vulnerability on behalf of their student. One of the most remarkable aspects of the One2One mentoring relationships is their potential for mutual learning between mentor and student. We can’t wait to see what we all learn through all 60 mentoring relationships during the next few months.