If only I had a mentor… These are often the sentiments of young people who long to look up to someone cool. Yet, what if you could be that mentor? Mentoring can start at any age. It is not limited by your height, race, religious beliefs or the lack thereof. Just by welcoming the new kid on the block, you’ve already embarked in an early form of mentoring. Being the new kid at school, church, hospital or in the community is not easy. Here’s what you can do to help them out.
Find the new kid (also known as your “mentee”)
You need to recognise that all around you there will be new kids at school and in your community. It is overwhelming to be the newbie. They may not know anyone and it’s up to you to look out for them, find them and bring them into your group or society.
The newbie will be the one sitting alone or wandering around lost. Unfortunately, some are so uncomfortable being the new kid on the block that they simply fade into the background as wallflowers. Challenge yourself to always look out for newcomers and offer your assistance.
Just show up
Chances are they are more scared than you. Even if you are a shy kid yourself, just show up and say ‘Hi’. Smile. You don’t have to be a master at making small talk. Try to strike up a conversation by asking for their name and telling them yours. Ask if they have pets or siblings. It helps to have some questions ready, but if the conversation dries up, no worries. You being there and sitting with them already makes all the difference in the world to them.
As a newbie, they may feel embarrassed and try to chase you away or not have much to say. Don’t take it the wrong way. They are just probably nervous and scared of being in a new environment. Try to compliment them on something that is really nice. Offer to show them where the toilet and tuckshop are – always a good starting point.
Be responsible. Take the new kid on the block under your wing. Come up with innovative ideas to help them feel welcome. Find ways of building up your peer and sharing inspiration. After all, isn’t that what mentorship is all about?