Youth Mentoring Program Relaunch & National Mentoring Month

By: Hannah Cheyney, Mentoring Program Manager

Relationships change lives. That is the biggest takeaway I have had as Asian American LEAD’s Mentor Program Manager celebrating National Mentoring Month this January. We launched Mentoring Program applications , connected with many future participants through social media, and celebrated past participants’ and Asian American LEADs staff’s mentoring insights and experiences. One of our previous mentors, Suka Nguyen, shared that her favorite aspects of the Mentoring Program were having a “chance to be reliable, non-parental figure in youth’s life; Feeling/building sense of community; and Keeping the spirit of curiosity alive by working with youth to find fun activities in the area to do together”. The applications for mentors and mentees are live on our website and pairs will begin mentoring as early as March 1, 2022.

On January 6th, we celebrated ‘I Am a Mentor Day’, celebrating a mentor’s role and how their mentees have impacted them. We also participated in MENTOR MD|DC’s virtual recruitment fair.

On January 17th, we celebrated ‘International Day of Mentoring’ along with ‘Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service’. To elevate the spirit of service, we shared one of our favorite Dr. Martin Luther King Quotes as well as our Virginia Middle School Coordinator (Catherine Han)’s thoughts on why mentoring in Asian American Pacific Islander communities is so vital.

To close out the month, I attended the National Mentoring Summit, held by MENTOR, a national organization that aims to close the mentoring gap and fuels the quantity and quality of mentoring relationships across the United States. At the National Mentoring Summit, there were workshops on numerous topics surrounding Mentoring such as Relationship Centered Schools, Social Emotional Learning, Sharing Social Capital and Empathy. There were many impressive speakers, including Miguel Cardona, United States Secretary of Education, and olympian Laurie Hernandez.. Laurie Hernandez spoke about the importance of mental health, especially while we are in a pandemic. She emphasized the point that while everyone gets anxious, scared, and sad, the key is having someone to help you prepare for and deal with these emotions.

This National Mentoring Summit has emphasized that a great deal of youth have been struggling over the past few years with isolation, fewer connections, and unfinished academic instruction. During the summit, Neema Avashia, a middle school teacher from Boston shared that “You can’t recover learning loss when young people feel lost”, and she is correct! AALEAD’s Mentors help youth find clear direction  and provide safe avenues to explore interests and develop skills, values, and hobbies. Tracy Huang, a past AALEAD Mentor, remembers that, “I enjoyed watching my mentee grow in her confidence and interests over time. I met my mentee just as she was transitioning to a new middle school. Over the course of the year, we did many group and 1×1 events, and I saw how the different activities helped her broaden her interests in photography, reading, movies, and cooking”.

As the Mentoring Program Manager, I am really looking forward to matching up AAPI youth with mentors and seeing the pairs in action. One of the main factors in a youth’s success and overall happiness is having a positive relationship with a caring and dedicated adult.

To all the future mentors out there: As the Rhode Island Department of Health’s Young Ambassadors reminded me, “Just by choosing to become a mentor, you are already helping by becoming an ally and someone youth can go to with their problems”. If you are interested in becoming a mentor and supporting a youth through any challenges they may have, I encourage you to apply!

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