Who is your Mentor? – Mhabeni Tungoe, Assistant professor Department of Education

College life has now kicked off for many students in Nagaland. As you enter new territory and find yourselves amongst new friends and teachers, it’s important to find the right support system to help propel your future forward. It may be in the form of a role model, a person you look up to, a teacher, a family member or even an elder brother or sister. Mentorship programme is another new initiative being introduced in many institutes in Nagaland for students who want more guidance and direction.

Who is your Mentor?

Mentorship existed since ancient Greek times. Historically, significant systems of mentorship include the guru-disciple tradition practiced in Hinduism and Buddhism. In today’s world we see and experience different mentoring in every arena of life, some examples are like Business mentoring, workplace mentors, leadership mentoring, student mentoring etc. Mentorship is a personal developmental relationship in which a more experienced or more knowledgeable person (mentor) helps to guide a less experienced or less knowledgeable person (mentee). Mentoring is a professional activity, a trusted relationship, a meaningful commitment that involves communications. Mentorship meetings can be formal or informal, which directly or indirectly helps an individual to become an efficient and successful person in their chosen area.  

In this write up my focus is on mentorship programme for the higher secondary and under graduate students. Why is it necessary? In what ways will it make life easier for the students? How to gain from this programme so that it will be beneficial for your studies, career and personal growth?  A student’s life is full of fun and adventure where one can experience and gain lots of knowledge, which can be either good or bad. Being a college student it is the time of your life when you can devote yourself pretty much entirely to something that interests you that will help you in your chosen career. It is an important period in a student’s life where one is standing on the path of roads and will be thinking and saying,” Ahh! What do I do? Do I go left, do I go right, or do I just go straight…?” Throughout the year different issues and problems may arise for the students, while not all students will experience the problems at the same time but at one point of time students will go through problems like -academic stress and pressure, confused about which career to chose, roommate conflicts , dating, time management and study habits, depression and anxiety ,financial worries, lack of motivation, intense pressure from family to excel, health problems  etc. To get help from these kinds of problems, mentorship programme is necessary for students. If you are a part of mentorship there will be someone who will mentor, care, and guide you. Mentors are there for you, knowing you individually – your weaknesses and strengths, disciplining you, encouraging you to do well in your studies as well in extra curricular activities, preparing you for life, improve your self-esteem and confidence. Not only that,  they can give goals, ideas, conflict and decisions to  develop careers that reflect your skills, potential and goals; and offer wisdom, knowledge, experience, constructive criticism, connections and resources focussing on your overall career direction. Mentors assure that interactions with mentees comply with applicable ethical standards. Typically, the process of mentoring also involves talking about mentors’ mistakes and successes. We need to keep in mind that mentor is there to help the students but it is up to the students whether to take the advice, suggestion and guidance that is given by their mentor. Students should keep in mind that it is important to share their problems expectations and goals in life to their mentors. In that way a mentor can guide you to succeed in your goals. Students also need to be ready to take positive and negative feedback from their mentors.

Mentorship programme is becoming recognized in educational institutions at college level in Nagaland as a highly effective personnel development method. Some of the Colleges in Dimapur that I know that offer mentoring program me are like Tetso college, St John College, Unity College , Government college and Patkai College. I asked some of the teachers from these colleges about mentorship programme at their college. The responses that I got are mostly positive. In every college mentoring meetings is scheduled, tracked, documented and evaluated. Mentoring programme goals are not always immediate. Some take time to harvest. On the other hand, for some, we can see immediate outcomes in this programme. For instance, students produce better results, their attendance improves, they display less behavioral problems and also those students who are introvert in nature are opening up to their mentors with different kinds of problems relating to personal and academic area. I also asked some of my students to give feedback on how the mentorship programme has helped them. The responses I got are very encouraging: some said that it helped in their academic and social activities; some were saying that they have clarified doubts and gained a lot of knowledge for further career options, and how to plan out for their career. Some were also thanking and appreciating the efforts of their mentors. The objective behind writing this article is therefore, to motivate students to take up the opportunities of a mentorship program at your college, as well as to encourage more initiatives like this for our students.  

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