My role was to guide mentees with their dream projects, to provide clarity when they were unsure and to encourage them when they hit a roadblock. During such times, it was imperative to make them understand the importance of persistence. I am not new to mentoring and firmly believe knowledge grows with sharing, this is why mentorship can be invaluable for young people. When a person with 20-25 years of professional experience behind them shares knowledge it could be a golden opportunity and should be appreciated.
Many times people have preconceived ideas, an opportunity of this kind can help get better understanding. With one mentee it was helping her get clarity on the ground realities instead of approaching issues with pre-determined notions. She wanted to take tuition for underprivileged children and had extensive plans for the same. To her as well as to the other mentees, my advice was to start small and closer home, and then go to schools and initiate conversations for more number of children. It takes a while for trust to build up, especially if someone has to send their children to you. In case of my second mentee, Mohamed, he wanted to introduce computers to children living in the slums. I encouraged him to find out what these children would gain from the experience and whether or not they value a program of this nature. Our authenticity matters most in such projects.
The closing workshop was a fantastic session, I missed a wedding in my family to attend it. It went well, and my mentees were there. There was a participant from Bangalore who had difficulty expressing himself during the opening workshop, and he was so confident and articulate during the closing session. I was amazed to see him speak and could see how far he had come from the day he started out. Also, to meet other mentors who are quite accomplished in their respective fields is something I cherish about this experience.
I Have a Dream is a good program, one can see the amount of effort put into it by the American Center and Pravah. When we were young, opportunities like these felt like godsend. As an alumna of the Fortune/U.S. Department of State Global Women’s Mentoring Partnership, a program that connects emerging women leaders from around the world with members of Fortune’s Most Powerful Women Leaders for a month-long program. I recall the infectious enthusiasm of the 21 co-participants in my cohort. This generated immense zest in me, as well a great a sense of responsibility. While the intent of this program is to help the alumni, I felt some of the mentees did not know how to get the most out of it. Several times I had to do the following up which I did but it is not always feasible given how busy I am. And I say this fully understanding the rigorous academic deadlines they may have to adhere to. The realization that several resources are being invested needs to be communicated to the participants, and that it is their responsibility to enter into such endeavors with a sense of deep commitment.
Parveen Hafeez is currently the Managing Director of Sunrise Hospitals group. She participated in the USG-sponsored Fortune/U.S. Department of State Global Women’s Mentoring Partnership in 2013. She mentored Mohamed Himayatullah, Anugraha George and Vijaya Shanthi (aka Riyaa) through the USG-sponsored I Have a Dream leadership and mentoring program for International Exchange Alumni.