Thursday, April 17, 2014

The Odyssey

“The delicate balance of mentoring someone is not creating them in your own image, but giving them the opportunity to create themselves.”- Steven Spielberg

Youth Connect has by far been one of the most different experiences in my life. I’ve always been fond of getting to know new people, forming friends, but SEWA has provided me with a very unique and different bond of friendship. I think all of us have been mentors at some point in our lives, either for our friends or family, but this particular program has given us the experience of a lifetime- of mentoring a person from a totally different social background, and in this process, forming a very unique relationship!
I’m very fortunate to have Poonam as my mentee, and to have formed a good relationship with her in these past few months. She is really sweet, well mannered and a good-hearted person, and its nice to consider her one of my friends. I have interacted with people from various diverse backgrounds before, but this is the very first time I’ve been part of someone’s life, who is so different from me and vice versa. And I definitely have to thank SEWA for that. In the past few months, I’ve taken on different roles- of a friend, of a listener, of a mentor- all of which overlap. I feel happy in saying that my relationship with Poonam has been stable and that we’ve been compatible from the very beginning, in fact I think it gets better with each meeting! Be it McDonalds, Starbucks, Atta Market (Noida), Akshardham temple, my college fest or her home, we have both got the opportunity to be a part of each other’s life, which definitely helps fulfill one of the goals of this program. It makes us aware of the world beyond ours, of a life very different from ours and I think such an experience is very enriching and fruitful! Visiting her home was definitely a new exposure for me, but at the same time, being at her place was almost like being at any other friend’s. It also felt good to engage with her very welcoming and sweet family members.
It gives lot of satisfaction and happiness to see Poonam enjoy having new experiences, be it trying out a new dish, sitting in an expensive coffee shop, witnessing performances at a college fest, learning how to e-mail or even speaking to me in English, etc. Going to all such places with her makes it quite a new experience for me as well. Also what is great about her is that she is open to all such new experiences! She is eager to learn, to know and to question things. It is exciting to see her come up with topics of discussion and also to listen to her views, opinions, and solutions and not just have her as a passive listener. Poonam has aspirations and wants to do well in her life and I feel this mentoring relationship will be really successful if I’m able to motivate her to give her best in everything, to work hard and achieve what she wants to! I would love to see Poonam get good results in her studies, get her dream job and speak fluent English, few years down the lane.

Another thing I like about her is that she considers me a friend and is also interested in my life, my aspirations and dreams, and at the same time considers me a mentor who is there to help her. I believe this entire program is also helping me grow as a person, through engaging with someone from a completely different social context, seeing different realities and overcoming my inhibitions. This program is also helping me getting to know myself even more!

Last Monday I asked Poonam to type out few lines of her experience till now, on my laptop. Once she wrote, I read it with her, and made few changes in order to help her improve her English skills. However, I didn’t edit it completely so as to retain the feel of her words.
“I have a good experience with Mahima, she is so sweet. I learnt from her how to be confident.  When I first time saw Mahima at metro station I was little afraid as to how can I manage with her, my time, my behaviour and the most important part was my background according to her. But I realized Mahima was like that she does not have any difficulties with me.  She is sweet, pure hearted, beautiful, intelligent.  She taught me how to behave in certain places. How you speak a meaningful statement that another person understands. She also teaches me English language. Mahima also speaks with me in English.
When first time Mahima come in my home her behaviour is very good towards my mom, grandmother, my younger brother & I like this very much. I had spent great time with her. This is my memorable period in my life. When we meet I have an enjoyable time with her.
I am improving my English, confidence level, and how can I speak to another person a meaningful statement this thing I want and Mahima is helping me fulfill my dream. At last again I thank Mahima for such a wonderful experience.”

I wish this 6-month program enriches our lives and leaves behind some wonderful memories and long-lasting results. I’ll feel a sense of contentment and achievement if I’m able to help Poonam and bring a positive change in her life, in whichever way possible. She and I both hope to continue this friendship even long after this program is over!

We have tried to convey the crux of our Youth Connect experience so far, as concisely as possible. Hope you enjoyed reading it!
Thank you.


  1. Your experiences are really wonderful to read. Nice post.

  2. I liked the fact that you take her to places where you hang out with your other friends.
    It seems like you both are quite welcoming of each other. :)
    Thanks for sharing!

    1. I would fully back this point! So endearing are your efforts, no wonder your mentee must be happy!

  3. Aww ^_^ the insightful piece by your mentee is the most valuable part of your article.