Mentoring is an amazing experience when it’s done with the right spirit. The reasons why people enter mentor/mentee relationships vary, but the purpose should be to build a supportive relationship that benefits both parties. The idea of finding a mentor can be intimidating, but when the right people are paired, the benefits are endless.
People say that mentoring can help you get your foot in the door. But I believe it’s more accurate to say that a mentor can show you what the door looks like, where the doors are located, and help you decide whether or not you actually want to walk through that door in the first place.
I’ve recently been introduced to an inspiring organization called WeDu. Originally based in the UK, the purpose of the WeDu Fund is to connect mentees from Asia (primarily South East Asia) with mentors from outside their communities. Mentees are referred to as Rising Stars at WeDu, and using whatever medium of online communication that works best for mentors and mentees, the pairs build mentoring relationships virtually.
I work in Vancouver, British Columbia for example, but I may be mentoring a student from Thailand, Myanmar, or any of of the Least Developed Countries in the world (as determined by the United Nations).
I connected with Noor Teja, the Mentoring Coordinator at WeDu. Noor is a Canadian working in Thailand, and this is her perspective:
“Wedu believes that one can foster leadership through life long mentorship. We do this by pairing a student with proven leadership potential with an experienced mentor and through a leadership development curriculum. Our Rising Star meets with their mentor twice a month for 2 hours at a time. Once a month they discuss their goals and strategies to achieve those goals. Their second monthly meeting is a piece of leadership development curriculum aimed at developing critical thinking by introducing topics of discussions which makes them questions social injustices happening around them.
Once a mentoring pair reaches a peer relationship instead of a mentor relationship, we rematch both parties.”
In addition to the mentoring program, WeDu hopes to build and sustain a student loan and future income sharing system meant to redirect repayments to supporting new students. Ultimately, the hope is that through mentoring and leadership, Rising Stars will take on leadership roles in their communities. WeDu has already begun to see success among its Rising Stars in Myanmar, who are now working with local NGO’s.
The majority of WeDu’s volunteers and financial support comes from Western sources, as described in the New York Times. Through mentoring, WeDu is able to support young students from these challenging environments by connecting them with mentors who are able to discuss college and university admissions, and potentially move on to finding placements and financial aid.
I advocate mentoring in every workplace. Whether you are a new warehouse employee, bartender or a professional protégé, all working hours are opportunities to share culture and training to those who are new to the worksite; new to a city.
The economic situation in North America is improving, but job seekers continue struggling to find employment in particular fields. Imagine how daunting it must feel for young students in struggling nations to finding employment in their fields of choice. I’m on the list of WeDu mentors waiting to be paired with a mentee, and I encourage you to apply as well!