This week, representatives from different cultures and backgrounds from Mentor International met in Stockholm, engaging in exciting conversations and close collaborations, to elevate the youth’s self-esteem and strengthen their faith in the future.
Mentor International is the global organization in which Mentor Sweden is a part of and collaborates with. The organization is also represented in the USA, Germany, Latvia and the Middle East. At regular intervals, representatives from the respective countries meet to exchange knowledge, experiences and lessons learned together, with the goal of being at the forefront of the work to strengthen young people.
This time the countries gathered in Stockholm for talks, inspiring workshops and an art exhibition at Moderna Museet where the participants got an insight into the course offering for children and young people. Among other things, they learned how the museum has been working with a youth council since 2020 to increase young people’s influence in the world of business.
They took part in a hands-on workshop aimed at children, young people and their families where they explored different artistic techniques in one of the museum’s rooms.
During the day, we took the opportunity to exchange a few words with representatives from all countries. Gudrun Giddings, Chairman of Mentor USA, is originally from Sweden but stationed in Los Angeles, where she leads Mentor’s operations.
What does Mentor’s business in the US look like?
“We offer a very similar arrangement to yours at Mentor Sweden. Among other things, we work with recurring school visits such as Mentor Inspo and programs for students when they have finished school. We have also organized a competition under the name “Living the example” which has been incredibly popular, where young people can act as role models for each other and show why they deserve the title.”
What are the most important lessons you take with you from your days in Stockholm?
I bring with me enormous inspiration and energy from my days with Mentor International. It was a reminder of the importance of listening to and helping young people work on their self-esteem and self-confidence, not least in the wake of the pandemic. Today, Mentor’s activities are needed more than ever before, concludes Giddings.
On-site to represent Mentor’s operations in the Middle East was, among others, Bechara Ghaoui, deputy director of Mentor Arabia.
How has the development looked in your region recently?
“Here at Mentor Arabia, our top priority has been to recover from the effects of the pandemic. But despite the challenges that changes in the outside world entailed, we have succeeded in deepening our operations in e.g. Lebanon and Jordan. H. M. Queen Silvia’s visit to Jordan last year, where she visited a girls’ school in Amman together with the Mentor delegation, was a welcome boost that helped us establish more partnerships. We have also opened a national office in Jordan, which is a big step for our development going forward.”
What has been the highlight during the visit with the other countries?
During the days together with Mentor International, we had the opportunity to learn from each other’s experiences, differences, and areas of knowledge. I am hugely motivated to continue our collaboration together.
In Mentor’s operations in Germany, pedagogue Agnes Wehr is involved and leads the work, which includes school visits and inspirational lectures for young people.
What is your strongest insight from the past few days?
It has been extremely rewarding to gain greater insight into how the other countries work to unlock the potential of young people. Many of us are facing similar challenges and therefore it is valuable to talk and learn from each other.
In Latvia, Mentor’s operations focus on the target group of young people with special needs. We spoke to the country’s program manager Ulla Zumente Steele. Here is what she said:
“In Latvia, we work with young people between the ages of 13 and 21 who, for whatever reason, lack the support of their biological parents. Many live in youth homes or with foster families. We offer them a one-year mentorship where they are matched with adult role models, just like in Sweden. We always strive to tailor the mentorship based on the youth’s own needs and interests, explains Zumente Steele.”
What are your goals for the future?
Going forward, we want to continue to develop and see, among other things, a growing demand for group mentoring. There we draw inspiration from Mentor Sweden and hope to broaden the range in the near future, concludes Zumente Steele.
The stay in Sweden came to a close with a visit by Mentor International’s founder H.M. Queen Silvia, who is also an honorary member of Mentor Sweden’s board. The Queen was welcomed to Mentor Sweden’s office in Gamla Stan, where all international representatives as well as colleagues in Stockholm gathered for a meeting.
Click here for the original Mentor Sweden article.