Have you ever wondered about being a youth mentor or what mentoring even is? Then keep calm and read on because you’re in the right place.
Meet our mentor
Playing Minecraft, shooting hoops, running for cover at laser tag, and attending a comic convention. These are some of the things our volunteer, and mentor, Hari has gotten up to with his Little Brother, Noble.
Hari, 29, has been a Big Brother to Noble for about a year-and-a-half and in that time the pair have forged a strong friendship.
“He’s incredibly smart, extremely curious, really kind, and a ton of fun to just hang out with,” he said.
Hari first arrived in Vancouver three-years-ago to complete a Masters of Business Administration (MBA). After graduating he wanted to keep himself busy and searched for an outlet to be productive in a positive way. It didn’t take long for him to find Big Brothers of Greater Vancouver.
“I didn’t want to, you know, just Netflix the whole time after. So I found a whole bunch of volunteering things to do – and I heard a lot of great thing about Big Brothers,” he said.
In the end, the decision to become a Big was made easy for him because of his family, who encouraged him to jump on the volunteer opportunity. It was also his personal experiences that inspired him to get involved in mentorship.
“During the MBA program I had a few mentors that helped me out. So, it’s kind of my way of trying to give back, in a way, and sort of pay that forward – and so far, it’s been incredible,” Hari said.
More than just giving time
The positive benefits of the mentorship have been a two-way street.
Hari has seen Noble become more confident as a person and increasingly comfortable pushing himself toward new experiences.
To his own surprise, he’s seen the same evolution in himself, both in a professional and personal-sense.
“I’ve grown a lot more confident in myself in terms of just being able to present myself externally. Putting myself in situations that I wouldn’t have typically before and things like that. So that’s made me feel a lot better. It’s also gotten me a little bit more comfortable finding ways to push that boundary a little bit of what I’m comfortable with. So, I think that’s been pretty awesome.”
However, it’s the impact he can see with his own eyes that makes being a Big the most rewarding.
“There’s obviously a lot of terrible stuff that’s happening around us – pretty much all the time – and we’re keenly aware of it… there’s sort of the ability to just feel powerless when you see all that because of how big the problems are and you feel like you don’t impact much. When you end up doing this program, on the flip side of it, just seeing the impact of it on Noble himself… it’s pretty huge to see. You may not be able to make a massive impact on all the problems that are going around, but if you can still make a little bit of an impact, that’s, pretty cool. So, I think I take a lot of positive from that.”
But what exactly is a youth mentor?
It can be an intimidating word, mentorship, and difficult to explain simply, but Hari thinks he knows the answer.
“Honestly, I would look at it more as just friendship. Obviously, there’s an age difference and all that, but I think, to me, the mentorship part happens quite silently. It’s not us kind of lecturing them or sitting there and teaching them a whole bunch of things. It’s purely through action. So, simple things like always turning up on time and things like that. That I know has a ripple effect.”
He wouldn’t describe being a Big as mentoring purely because it’s not the type of relationship where one person is constantly asking questions while the other answers them with an authoritative voice.
“It’s just us kind of hanging out and doing things together and just having fun. Invariably, there are portions that end up happening that are kind of similar to mentorship. But overall, I think, structurally it feels more like a friendship.”
Right now, there are hundreds of youth waiting for their mentor (and friend!). If you’ve ever considered volunteering as a mentor, now is the time.
“It’s a lot less scary than you think it is and it’s a lot more fun than you think it will be and you’ll end up learning a whole lot more about yourself,” Hari said. “There’s a lot in it for you that you’ll end up finding and you’ll be surprised with what comes out at the end of it.”
Ready to start your mentoring journey? Then apply today!
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