October 31, 2011

RP 10 - Mentoring Stories ( from the Reflective Practice Session 18.09.2011)

This is a collection of stories discussed at one of the mentor group meetings in September at one of the partner centers.


Sandeep mentors Abdul, a 16-year-old from Roopena Agrahara, pursues a pre-university course in science. He lives with his parents and his father has a small shop near their home. They have been meeting for 8 months now. Read more about them in previous post here.

Abdul seems to be doing okay in his junior college. Nothing has come up yet on this front.

In the past, Abdul had shared his interest towards automobiles and indicated a desire to pursue automotive engineering. Sandeep and Abdul frequently have conversations around this interest area.

They recently visited an ‘auto show’ together along with Sandeep’s son. Abdul enjoyed this trip and seemed to be very curious about different vehicles. He spent a lot of time observing everything around. Towards the end, when asked what brand or type of vehicle he liked the most he said, the BMW. 

Although Abdul is generally very shy and speaks very little, he seemed to be most comfortable with any conversation around automobiles. Sandeep recalled that during one of their visits to a mall, Abdul identified cars in the parking lot and they played a small game around identifying the cars.

Another day, they visited a flower show at Lalbagh park. Abdul enjoyed this visit as well.

Sandeep however mentioned a concern about Abdul not really opening up as much as he expected in the time they have spent. He felt that he continued to drive or initiate most of the conversations rather than Abdul. However he admitted there were instances where Abdul was able to assertively respond. Abdul also sends an SMS to Sandeep most days.  

Reflections from the Group:
  •  It’s nice to see that Sandeep continues to revolve conversations and activities around Abdul’s areas of interest as he has in the past( for example Abdul’s interest for art)
  •  It’s understandable that when one’s mentee does not open up one would feel concerned/frustrated. But perhaps that’s the way Abdul is, as a person. He may be shy or reserved. Perhaps he has a challenge communicating or expressing himself as a result of language since Sandeep admitted they speak to him in English.
  • A suggestion would be to attempt conversations in Hindi as Abdul’s other tongue was Urdu. Interestingly he does send SMS’s. Maybe he’s just not much of talker and we should be patient and just accept him the way he is. If we create easier opportunities for Abdul to speak around the topics that interest him he might open up.
  • Sometimes young people from such backgrounds are also not used to leading conversations when around adults. They maybe used to conversations with adults only where they would just respond to questions or reply when told what to do. So its also possible that talking to an adult in this manner is a new experience for him.
  • There was a discussion among mentors present regarding Abdul’s interest in automotive engineering, , if this was a realistic goal to encourage, considering the difficulty in terms of academic requirements and financial resources needed. So should other options be discussed with Abdul instead?
  • Sandeep agreed that more time was needed to be spent on conversations around a career path and how Abdul could start planning his way forward. During the course of this discussion perhaps other aspects may come out such as challenges Abdul may face and as this happens, other options available could then be discussed.


Vijay mentors Ali, an 18-year-old who lives in Roopena Agrahara with his elder sisters and parents. Ali attends a pre-university course in science. They have been meeting for 8 months now. Read more from previous posts Here & Here

Vijay has now been meeting Ali more often and they have attempted visits or activities. Ali seems to respond more to these activities.

Vijay planned a few visits to a cyber/internet café nearby and explained how to use the internet to find information and also helped him create an email id. Ali gradually started to ask questions related to higher education and careers. Vijay tried answering his queries and also helped Ali understand how the internet can help him find answers.

On a few occasions Ali had questions concerning pursuing professional cricket or training for this in other states like Delhi. Vijay wasn’t sure how to clarify these queries.

On other days, Ali accompanied Vijay to a visit a science museum and a public park. Although Ali spoke very little, he seemed to respond to questions and expressed that he enjoyed these visits.

Ali seemed to prefer activities rather than sessions involving just conversation. Vijay noticed that it made it easier for Ali to open up.   

Reflections from the Group:
  • It’s probably a relief to Vijay to know that Ali is now responding and meeting Vijay more often as compared to previous episodes where he was difficult to reach. It takes a lot of patience to keep trying to connect one’s mentee and Vijay has kept trying for a long time.
  • Vijay is on the right track by attempting different activities to engage Ali and attempting conversations around careers and higher education.


Manoj has been mentoring Dhanush from Adugodi for 8 months now. Dhanush is an 18-year-old who is currently pursuing his pre-university course. Dhanush also helps his parents sell vegetables and fruits in the morning and also works part time at a community youth center. Read more from previous posts Here & Here.

Manoj has not been able to meet Dhanush as often as he would like to over the last month although they are in touch over the phone. His work commitment has led to him to consider discontinuing next month onwards. Manoj expressed that he was not sure about how to go about with this. 

Reflections from the Group: 
  • Most mentors find it difficult to approach one’s mentee when it concerns discontinuing a mentoring relationship. Sometimes we try to avoid this as it makes us uncomfortable or feel guilty. However, at some point mentor and mentee will part ways. It’s no one’s fault.
  • However it’s important to talk about this with one’s mentee 2-3 meetings prior to formally discontinuing. Young people do understand if we are honest about the reasons.
  • It would however not be taken very well if no explanation is offered and we just stop communicating.  It could leave doubts in the mentee’s mind as to why his/her mentor is no longer coming to meet him/her. Did I do something wrong? Or maybe my mentor does not like me..etc.
  • It is important to explain that Manoj would continue to remain a friend and be available on telephone should Dhanush have something he really needs to talk about.
  • Closure in the mentoring program, is also an experience that allows mentees to learn about transitions in relationships one may face during adulthood. So a proper closure is a learning for the youth.
                      Compiled by Jeeno P. Jacob, Program Anchor — Dream Mentoring Program| Dream A Dream

* Once a month, mentor meetings are organised by Dream A Dream. The session is a forum to discuss challenges and seek support and advice from fellow mentors, senior mentors, and Dream A Dream

** Names of mentees have been changed to protect their identity and maintain anonymity.