06 Nov Allow yourself the grace to learn (Mentor Reflections)
“What do you think happens if you live inside your comfort zone? This is a question I often ask myself when I have the opportunity to do something I’m afraid of. Oftentimes I’m scared or nervous at the beginning of the unknown, but if I decide to jump into the experience, I find I’m constantly growing and learning. If we, as mentors and mentees, aren’t challenging ourselves and allowing ourselves the grace to learn from each other and from our mistakes, we need to ask ourselves what we’re missing by avoiding those experiences.
Zam Zam, my Rising Star from Bangladesh, is an incredible young woman. She is driven and bright – working full time to pay for her law degree; after which she hopes to one day use her skills to work at the UN and advocate for human rights. She does all of this while starting Right to Information, a campaign to educate young women about their legal rights. When we have calls, I mainly do a lot of listening and try to validate her experiences, encouraging her to develop more self-confidence. Right now we are working on internship applications and raising funds through her campaign to support her university studies.
Personally, the thing I’ve learned the most from mentoring Zam Zam is the importance of hard work, persistence, and resilience. I’ve learned all of these from Zam Zam, who balances an incredible amount of activities gracefully. I’ve also learned the importance of a positive mindset and attitude, which has also come from Zam Zam. And lastly, I’ve noticed how important it is for me to be vulnerable as a mentor in the same way Zam Zam is with me. That’s an important part of any relationship and something I have to remind myself to do.
In my view, mentorship is an incredible opportunity and a huge responsibility. It’s a privilege to gain access to someone’s life often during times when they are vulnerable. And it’s also an opportunity to learn a lot about yourself as a mentor as well. I’d encourage anyone to be a mentor – whether informally or formally. A mentor can be anyone who is in a position to show up consistently, to accept that mentorship is a two-way learning journey, who understands it’s not about handing out advice/answers but facilitating a learning process and empowering someone to build skills on their own, and who is excited about the tremendous potential of young people to change the world.”
This is a guest submission by Wedu Mentor, Alexandra MacLeish. Alexandra is ZamZam’s mentor and the Associate Program Officer at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. For more reflections from our community members, check our blog and like us on Facebook!