SIX MENTORS, six adolescent mentees and their parents met on March 2, 2013, to sign agreements to participate in Torch (JC), a new mentoring programme for the Methodist Welfare Services (MWS) Bursary Recipients who are currently in Junior College. The bursary recipients are students from low-income households.
Mentors and mentees will meet face-to-face four times this year, for one-and-a-half hours each time, in addition to other forms of contact such as email, phone and instant messaging. The aim is for mentees to receive exclusive guidance that will facilitate their progress to University and beyond.
Studies have revealed a correlation between a young person’s involvement in a quality mentoring relationship and positive outcomes in the areas of school, mental health, behavioural issues and health (DuBois and Karcher, 2005; Rhodes, 2002; Zimmerman, Bingenheimer and Behrendt, 2005).
Considering the long history of mentorship and its beneficial effects in youth development, all parties involved in Torch (JC) can look forward to a constructive learning cycle and meaningful personal development.
MWS Bursary Committee Chairman Terence Wee elaborates: “Everybody at a certain age needs guidance so that they can become successful, and shorten trial and error on the learning curve. Mentoring is one way of sharing life experience, providing a vision of another possibility.”
Mentor Wong Peng Meng, who is Associate Director in the Office of Alumni Relations in the National University of Singapore, adds: “Besides the demand for academic rigour to prepare for tertiary education, there are needs to acquire some life skills in order to enrich oneself.”
Mentees’ parents also anticipated positive results from the programme. “I hope this will be a turning point in his life,” said Mr Theh, a father who attended. His son Patrick, who is Mr Wong’s mentee, shared: “I hope that I will find my interest, know more about what society is like, so I can choose a career that I really like.”
Other mentees also echoed Patrick’s desire for guidance and direction. “I hope mentoring will help me know where I want to go, as I am quite confused now,” said mentee Claire. Fellow mentee Andrew concurs: “I hope to gain a more accurate, adult perspective from a mentor.”
Claire’s mother Madam Ong also expressed her hope for another dimension to the mentorship experience that lay ahead. “Claire can receive guidance from someone who can be like her second parent,” she said.
In response, Mr Kan Shik Kiong, Principal Consultant with the InfoComm Development Authority of Singapore, expressed upbeat enthusiasm and excitement about being able to “help and guide” his mentee Claire, praising her for her leadership potential and engagement in social work.
Mr Martin Chok, Manager of the MWS Service Planning and Development department, highlights that “the bond between mentor and mentee is a special relationship.” Andrew’s mentor Mr Kenneth Tan, who is Director of his own communications firm, agreed: “We look forward to building a friendship based on trust. We will be learning from as well as teaching each other.”
This view was affirmed by mentor Belinda Goh, who is a life coach and counsellor: “I have seen people maximising their potential through guidance.”
Mr Wee set the Torch (JC) wheels in motion by motivating this pioneer batch of JC-level mentees to aspire to become role models themselves: “All of you are already overcomers because you have decided to invest in more education. I need you to be a shining Torch and a pioneer role model for the students that come behind you. Be an inspiration so that more will follow in your footsteps.”
*Beneficiaries’ full names have been withheld to protect their identities.
Adeline Huang is the Executive (Communications & Fundraising) of Methodist Welfare Services.
OVERCOMERS, ROLE MODELS
“All of you are already overcomers because you have decided to invest in more education. I need you to be a shining Torch and a pioneer role model for the students that come behind you. Be an inspiration so that more will follow in your footsteps.”