Imperial College, London, UK
The seminar was organised by IMASE in conjunction with London Achievers and the Islamic Society of Imperial College.
The objectives of this course were to:
- Provide prospective mentors with an insight into mentoring and what it involves.
- Outline the benefits to be gained from mentoring for both the mentor and the mentee.
- Introduce ways in which mentor-mentee relationships can be developed and sustained most effectively.
Kausar Ahmed (London Achievers): "What is mentoring all about and why"
Br. Kausar outlined the role of a mentor as being a person that achieves a one-to-one developmental relationship with a learner, and one whom the learner identifies as having enabled personal growth to take place. He mentioned that a mentor is a friend, a role model, a sounding board, a guide, a motivator, an adviser, and a facilitator to the mentee. He also pointed out that the mentor is not meant to be a teacher or a social worker.
Br. Kausar referred to a good mentor as a person who has knowledge of the mentee, has the skills to develop a personal rapport with them and has personal qualities such as commitment and motivation. He then outlined many of the “Dos” and "Don’ts" in a mentoring relationship, and also highlighted the benefits to be gained by mentors as well as mentees. Finally he reminded the participants to have patience, as mentoring is a slow process where the result may take time to materialise but will be a lasting one, insha’Allah. It will be an experience well worth the effort.
Unaiza Karim - "Personal experiences as a mentor"
Sr. Unaiza started by mentioning that children are being set up for failure because they have people like Bruce Willis, Uma Thurman, Britney Spears, and so on, for their role models. As their personalities are manufactured and not ‘real’, it is difficult for children to be able to be like them.
She mentioned that most children of 5 to 6 years of age in the inner cities want to be doctors, engineers, pilots, etc, indicating that they have high goals. However, as they grow up to be teenagers, they become indifferent and unmotivated, often dropping out of mainstream society. Why? It would seem that the majority of these children lack encouragement, and someone to believe in them and their aspirations. This is the primary goal of the mentor - to act as a person who encourages and believes in the ability of the young person.
Sr. Unaiza then gave some practical tips from her experience as a mentor and mentioned that a good mentor is also a good listener. She also highlighted the importance of being a good time manager. One of the main functions of the mentor is to set goals for the mentor and mentee to achieve together. The goals needs to be SMART ones, i.e. Specific, Measurable, Agreed upon/Action oriented, Realistic and Time bound.
Sr. Unaiza concluded by saying that we are all indirectly mentors ourselves, especially to those young ones amongst our friends and family.
Waseef Asghar - "Tips on being a good mentor"
Br. Waseef concentrated on outlining steps to develop and improve one’s listening skills. He reiterated the fact that a good mentor is a good listener. A good listener is one who does not interrupt, is interested and concerned with the mentee’s problems, receptive and is non-judgemental. He also went through some practical exercises with the participants in which he demonstrated that body language is vital for good communication.
Br. Waseef said that a good mentor does not preach, and always works on the problem that the mentee wants to work on, not on those the mentor thinks are important.
At the end of this lecture session, the floor was opened up for questions from the participants.
Br. Muhammad Rashid (London Achievers) - "How to get involved in mentoring"
This was mainly targeted at those living in the London area.
Br. Muhammad mentioned that this seminar was only an introductory course, and that those seriously interested in becoming mentors would be asked to attend a 2-day intensive course. After that, the Mentor would be introduced to the mentee at the London Achievers office in East London. The mentors and mentees are later expected to make arrangements to meet each other at least twice a month. There would also be a monthly meeting between the mentors to share experiences.