Wednesday, February 3, 2010

From a Mentor

Last Thursday, our Adams Yabos participated in a session called "Mentee Summit." Mentees form a panel, and mentors listen as the youth discuss topics that the group has voted on. One of our mentors, Fara Phillips, was kind enough to let us share her experience of the session:

"I found last night’s session to be a really powerful experience, especially the talk about gangs. The world these kids live in is so different from any I’ve ever known. I mean, we know these things already but hearing it from a kid sitting across from you has a much stronger impact than seeing it on TV or reading it in the paper. It’s so frustrating to hear middle and upper class folks sitting in their comfortable suburban homes who so often blame the kids, having no idea what their lives are like, the pressures and the sometimes subtle (and understandable) slide into hopelessness that leads to giving in. The percentage of kids who have been directly exposed to violence, seen folks die, and who know repeat offenders is staggering – again, we know it but now we KNOW it.

"It’s so easy to armchair coach someone else’s life. The fact that these kids are so young and are already facing such issues is a powerful social commentary. The experience will stay with me a long time. The kids seemed to enjoy having the chance to speak out as well.
I was happy to see that at least for now Victoria [Fara's mentee] wasn’t one of those kids raising their hand."

At YMC, mentoring is half of what we do. According to our mission statement, "our vision is of a community where young people are truly seen and not just watched, where society understands and accepts its responsibility in meeting the needs of all young people." Through bringing diverse adults and youth together, we have aspirations of social and cultural change.

At the end of the session, our facilitator Hoolie asked the mentees what it was like to have adults listen to them. The overwhelming response was that it felt awesome, and that it felt new. For one night, mission accomplished.

1 comment:

Tony said...

Great entry. Fara, thank you for articulating the experience so well...and Sarah thank you for putting it into context with our big dream for this culture. Makes me proud of us.