Volunteering is really unfair. It’s not quite a 50/50 exchange between the mentor and the mentee. Honestly, I feel a little guilty about the fact that I am most likely getting the most out of it. Today was my first one-on-one mentoring session with my SLC Teen Writes student. Before meeting up with her, we had our usual Saturday run – going to lunch (German this time), walking to coffee, doing the crossword, and hanging out with friends. At lunch I picked up a slice of Black Forest Cake at Siegfried’s to celebrate what would have been my Mom’s 69th birthday, tomorrow. I even sang Happy Birthday for her out loud with Stark and when it came to the end, where typically one would sing “And many more…” I almost said the words and the fact that I couldn’t choked me up. But the day had already been great, the cake was great, the company was great, and I even answered a handful of questions on the crossword that usually I know nothing about. So I was pretty happy when I left everyone to walk to the library to meet up with my student.
But I decided to go to the library early and that this should be “a thing” where I allow myself an hour before meeting my mentee each week to work on my own writing. So I spent most of an hour sitting by myself in the corner of the library rereading what I had last worked on in writing my book. I haven’t touched anything since mid-May and I have to say, it’s not nearly as good as it sounded back then. I’m disappointed. In fact, it’s boring. But that’s ok. I have played with how to start the beginning of the book with many ideas. I thought a lot about what I could eliminate and leave for the reader to imagine on their own. So reading was somewhat constructive but I didn’t actually get to the point of doing anything more than writing in the margins. I’ll have to give myself more time throughout the week to actually do some writing/rewriting because as soon as I dove into it, it was already time for my student to show up.
Getting the gist of how this whole mentoring thing might work with only one hour per week, we just dove right into working on her homework – mostly a reading/reading comprehension exercise. With 10 minutes left in our mentoring session, we stopped to finish up a summary of what we had read so far for her homework assignment and then we did a brief assignment writing about ourselves. Seeing as it was our first time hanging out, I thought a brief 5-minute bio would be the best way to get things started. We read each of our half pages out loud to the other person. I thought that might be helpful with her reading comprehension skills as well as reading out loud her own work. I gathered working on reading was important to her and according to her bio, it was! Reading, writing, and learning English (from what I can assume English is probably her 3rd language at this point) are most important to her. I am happy to help! In fact, I’m excited about it. That is why I think it was even more helpful and gratifying for me! Seeing her read an entire, short paragraph by herself, correctly without my help made me proud and seeing her smile over a job well done was priceless. I loved getting to know her more personally through her short writing assignment at the end and being able to ask questions about where she was from. I won’t share many of them here, for her own privacy. But I really think this year is going to be a lot of fun and I am excited to watch her grow. I hope I can make an impact on her ability to understand and utilize English so that she can accomplish her dreams which is to get a job and raise enough money to go back to visit her Grandma in Thailand. I’m all about making dreams come true in the long run and helping anyone learn to express themselves through something like writing.