There is a famous quote from Galileo Galilei, “You cannot teach a man anything. You can only help him discover it within himself.” How true is this for our students who are every day learning new things and are being encouraged to explore new ideas! It is with this inspiration at Child for Child that we decided to include children from privileged schools to become part of our student mentoring system. Students as mentors? An exciting idea, isn’t it? Here’s how we did it.
CFC students as mentors
We spoke to some of the students who have been associated with us for almost a year. All of them are working on some project or the other. We have six students from Bangalore who are members of an organisation called LEAP, an acronym for Leaders of Environmental Awareness and Protection. They are Rahul, Konik, Siddhant, Stuti, Smriti, and Shrishti. All of them work towards the common cause of environmental preservation. They seek to mentor other children regarding best practices in ecology preservation. Well, they reached out and we connected them to our project children in the lovely hill town of Kalimpong, West Bengal.
Then we reached out to Shivani, Zaara, Rishi, and Aryaman, our bunch of tech nerds from Mumbai who have set up GenZ Codes. The project teaches coding at extremely low costs to the less privileged. They have been associated with us and want to teach our beneficiary children the advantages of coding and how to do it with ease. They were happy to come on board with their tutorials, their applications, and their bundle of talent. So, we connected them to the children in our Darjeeling project who want to learn coding but do not have the means to do so.
K-students also join in!
Not to be left behind were Hyeyoon, Yedam, and Seokwoo, our very own K-students from South Korea. All three currently reside in India and are extremely excited to teach math, music, and, of course, Korean to those who were keen. They too joined the bandwagon of student mentors who want to guide, teach, and motivate the project children. We connected them to our extremely enthusiastic bunch of tweens and teens living in the quaint villages of India’s Queen of Hills, nestled amongst world’s most gorgeous tea gardens in Darjeeling.
As connections were built, introductions made, we noticed that new relationships were emerging. The mentoring quickly progressed towards formation of bonds that are visible only amongst siblings. The shy giggles from our project children gave way to eager questions. Our children accepted their mentors as buddies and wanted to know more about them, about the world outside, the music they listened to, and the pop bands they followed.
From mentors to buddies
Now, where in the world do you see the progress so quickly from being mentors to buddies? At Smile we saw that. We absolutely love this and we pray that this bond never breaks. We are happy to share that now we have a bunch of super intelligent Buddy Mentors who have taken it upon themselves to motivate their brethren mentees to do the right thing, choose the right path, and to always be inquisitive. And the amazing part…it’s all digital! How beautiful it is to see that Buddy Mentors login from south India, central India, as well as the capital of India, and connect so well with their mentees from the foothills of Himalayas.
The mentors and mentees have already celebrated Children’s Day and Environment Day together. They have also indulged in a some pre-Xmas celebrations. Let’s hope that we see this magic evolve into a relationship where children, despite the physical distances, continue to remain in touch and continue to learn from each other. As the lyrics go of a famous song by the British Rockband, GTR:
When the Heart rules the mind
One look & love is blind
When you want the dream to last
Take a chance, forget the past”
The empathy, the love & the maturity displayed by our Buddy Mentors will ensure that this Dream will definitely last!