[box]OMSF is honored to work with young talented volunteers who are willing to share their experiences and thoughts on mentorship. Today I am particularly proud to feature a story written and designed by our new mentoring friend, Ali Shirazi. Ali is a senior at Northeast Regional Vocational High School in Wakefield, MA. He loves music and hopes someday to be a songwriter-producer. A connoisseur of iconic music talents, he also happens to be an expert on our the career of OMSF co-founder Patti Austin! We couldn’t survive without our altruistic volunteers—people who share their time, wisdom, and expertise to remind us all how much we need each other. Thank you so much, Ali, for sharing this story with us today!
—Dawn Carroll, OMSF Executive Director[/box]
Faces upon faces upon faces, all unique and all special in their own particular way. Nothing links these faces except for maybe a few things. They all share similar feelings: of excitement and assumed preparedness, ready to take on the next four years of their lives. They think all will soon be great and each day will be filled with excitement and pure splendor.
The thoughts, for some, are of hope for a NEW BEGINNING. They see the halls them with seemingly infinite doors, thinking hope should lie somewhere. The people around them seem intimidating or friendly. But another feeling they might have is a sense of fear. It’s the fear that keeps each person on edge, causing each step to shake more than the last. Despite the excitement and hope, underneath lies an ugliness. There lies a doubt about all their hopes:
“I’ll make FRIENDS, but, maybe I won’t”
“I’ll join football, but, maybe I’m NOT GOOD enough.
“I’ll join DRAMA, but, what’s if I get stage fright? Or, if I’ll even get on the stage…”
“I’ll get my voice out there for once, but, maybe NO ONE CARES. They never had before…”
Those are the few examples of the hopeful yet frightened thoughts that linger within the young minds.
I had volunteered to stand in front of a group of children with these same ideas—the “maybe I will, maybe I won’t” mindset—hoping I could change that, or at least make them feel less anxious. They sat in front of me, their many questions forming a whirlwind. I had to take on the persona of “Time”, to dissipate the tornadoes oncoming with question marks.
In my role as a Junior Mentor at Northeast Metro Tech, the goal was first to help students by easing them from anxiety into more positive thoughts, from fear to pure excitement. I was also expected to ensure they know all the rules and customs of the school, and answer routine related questions. Lastly, optional yet expected, was to be there for my assigned freshmen, or any freshmen that looked like they needed help. Sometimes, just say hi to them to let them feel welcomed. Not just welcomed to the school, but even welcomed by you, a peer. And I had done just that, exchanging greetings with them and asking them if they need help. They’d smile and say hi and how are you. Then, usually, they’d tell me they’re doing fine or they’d ask a quick question.
There are a few instances in which I felt proud, not so much of myself, but of them. One of the girls I mentored came to me during lunch—she asked to sit with me and I said, of course!—and she began telling me how her year went by so far and how well she’s been doing. I was glad that she felt comfortable enough to tell me, that she knew I would listen—it was very brave of her. In another instance, I greeted a boy in the hallway as usual and then he said, “Guess what?” He told me about getting into the shop class he was excited to take and about signing up for sports, that he’s keeping up his grades and he loves the school so far.
I’m happy I got to help some kids with their transition into high school. When I was a freshman, I needed a guide. The teachers stood around and offered direction, but that was about it. However, a senior girl I was already friends with offered me a place to sit at lunch as well as her advice. She introduced me to one of her friends as well. I was lucky to have had a mentor. I appreciated that more than anything, and now I’m glad I got to do it for a new class of students. To greet the minds filled with questions and the “maybe I will and maybe I wont’s” to see them filled with answers and to hear them say, “I know I will.”