How Mentors Impact Lives
By Vi Bui, Youth Mentoring & Volunteer Programs Coordinator
Photos Courtesy of AALEAD Staff
The end of National Mentoring Month (aka January) marks 11 months that I have worked at AALEAD as the Youth Mentoring & Volunteer Programs Coordinator and over the course of this year I have learned so much about the importance of mentors in the Asian Pacific American community. Here are just a few ways mentors impact lives.
- Mentors support their mentees in pursuing new interests. Whether that interest is music, dance, art, sports, or something completely different, mentors are there for their mentees from finding ways to explore these interests to being there for those dance recitals or big games.
- Mentors are someone their mentees can rely on. In AALEAD’s mentoring programs, we do not set the schedules when mentors and mentees meet or talk, but many of our mentors have regular weekly phone check-ins, lunch meetings, or study sessions with their mentees. Furthermore, mentors are someone mentees feel comfortable picking up the phone and calling (or texting) for advice or support at any time of day.
- Mentors let their mentees know that they are not alone. Growing up, youth may sometimes feel like they are the odd one out among their peers. Mentors, especially ones with similar experiences or backgrounds, can be there for their mentees by sharing about their experiences, and showing them others’ perspectives that can help them realize they are not the only ones who face these challenges.
- Mentors share their culture. Whether mentors and mentees share a cultural background or not, mentoring is an opportunity to learn about your own cultural identity and about others. Youth who feel positively about their identity are more likely to have positive socio-emotional wellness and improved confidence.
- Mentors role model what is possible. In families where opportunities seem limited, mentors can show their mentees that success is not defined in only one way. Role models of color are examples to youth of color that it is possible to break stereotypes, glass ceilings, and go beyond expectations.
I know first-hand how mentors impact lives. In this work I think back to my own mentors, my high school band director, and my college advisers and professors. These were the people who turned a shy, timid girl without direction into a leader, a voice for the community, and someone who has chosen to forge her own path.
Has a mentor impacted your life? Let them know before the end of National Mentoring Month (#ThankYourMentorDay was last Thursday)! And pay if forward by becoming a mentor to a young person in your community.