A Reflection on my Mentoring Journey- Anusha Ravishankar

We have been talking to our Mentors about their experience of interacting with young adults. They seem to learn a lot about themselves during this journey. Anusha has shared her feelings and thoughts about the mentoring program and her relationship with her mentee- Ismail.

My relationship as a mentor has evolved over time. I feel we have become friends. Or at least reached a space where I know he can share his feelings and thoughts with me without hesitation.

I became a part of this program hoping to forge a connection with a person who might be going through a complex and confusing time – because I know how those teenage years were for most of us. I also knew that there were certain concrete areas where Ismail needed help such as conversational English. He was also looking for someone who could coach him on playwrighting. I knew that I could help him there. My perspective about this programme changed over time. I realise now is that it isn’t a platform where one gives and the other receives. It is a genuine learning curve for both people involved while also making room for a friendship to emerge.

I think the one- on-one attention is essential for sharing because it helps create a safe space. Also, there is more scope for investing both time and attention to the smaller often neglected aspects of a person.

This journey with Ismail has taught me to examine my prescriptive attitude that can potentially emerge towards a young adult. I don’t think it works as an approach even if you have the best intentions. I think the listening and asking questions is the ideal approach, since nobody wants to be told what to do.

My only concern is that I will be leaving Delhi soon and want to figure out a way to be in touch with him. Skype calls are a possibility and I will visit often enough, so I think we can manage.

The Mentoring Programme

Initially, the mentoring programme at Aagaaz arose from a need to bridge academic gaps that our adolescents in Nizamuddin were facing. We decided that there was a need for one-on-one connections to make this more beneficial and sustainable.

Later we re-designed the programme to look at needs that go beyond the academic. We realized that there was a need for a deeper relationship that could act as a learning space for both the mentor and the mentee.
Currently, we have 20 professionals from diverse academic and professional backgrounds working with the young actors on their various areas of need and interest. These include script writing, theatre direction, music, art, emotion management, language and mathematics, and more.
True to the vision of Aagaaz, we are creating a forum for reflection, dialogue, and learning for our lovely mentors as well. Together, we are exploring notions of working with young people, and its relationship to their idea of self and the world. One of our Mentors Anirban has been working quite regularly with Shahid on music. Recently, they co-hosted a workshop that introduced the participants to songs, passing games and folk melodies from across the country. They played these folk melodies using stuff that we use on a daily basis – utensils, jars, pulses etc and helped the participants connect to the forms in a fun manner.
“It went well, although we could have done a lot more, but since this was our first workshop together and we had limited time, we could only do two folk songs. We started with the history of the songs, then did a small session on familiarizing the participants with the homemade instruments”- Anirban, February 2017

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