Summer is over, the leaves are changing, and school is in full swing – it’s fall, and just like that, Community for Youth has kicked off the 2022-2023 Program Year!
To open the 2022-2023 Program Year, CfY held a series of three trainings designed to help our mentors support their mentees and have a great CfY experience the whole way. Over the course of three weeks, we sat down with our new and returning mentors (as well as a student panel!) to tackle the ins and outs of CfY, how our mentors can create an awesome and safe experience for their mentees, and what it means to practice critical mentoring, the mentoring style at the center of our valuable programming.
Critical mentoring is about activism and resistance to racism. Asking our mentors to practice critical mentoring means cultivating awareness – or critical consciousness – around identity, intersectionality, and systemic inequities. By centering critical mentoring in our program, CfY leverages the mentoring relationship and the powerful community we co-create to address social injustice and promote positive change in our community.
To explore critical mentoring, each training session featured robust discussions and activities revolving around identity and inequity, and mentors were given the opportunity to explore and share their own identities, experiences, and challenges with one another. In one activity, signs describing different identities were placed around the room, and participants were asked to move around the room and indicate which identity they associated themselves the most with, which identity they’d like to learn more about, and which identity others perceived most.
An important cornerstone of critical mentoring is centering student voice and student experiences in programming. During the third and final training session, CfY brought in a panel of four returning mentees to field questions about their past experiences in CfY, and to share their expectations and needs with our mentors-in-training.
Students recounted their favorite CfY memories, suggested activities for one-on-one and family group meetings, and stressed the importance of patience and understanding in mentoring relationships. Our student panel members also took the opportunity to bond with mentors, playing community building games and mingling with newcomers and returning mentors alike.
This year’s Mentor Training Sessions were so much fun, and a HUGE success! We would like to thank all of our new and returning mentors, as well as our student panel, for bringing authenticity and openness to this year’s training sessions, and for creating a warm and welcoming environment! We are looking forward to having a wonderful program year with all of you.