Giving Back

Rutgers School of Public Affairs and Administration (SPAA) hosted a mentoring workshop for seniors going to school at West Side High School. The mentoring workshop is an initiative towards uniting high school students in Newark with college students at Rutgers. The program started off with introductions and a description on what the mentors would be subjected to. Finally, the high school students arrived and the journey began. Seeing the students made me excited. Being a student myself any opportunity I get to engage with other students is memorable. Moreover, being able to engage with students who are younger than me gives me a chance to not give the few words of advice I may have, but to also learn from them. That I must say, was the best part of this program. I was able to spend 4 hours of my life engaging with seniors. During those hours I realized that 3 years ago I was in the same boat. Time continues to pass  whether I am productive with it or not.

There were a total of three mentees at my table. Each of us had different backgrounds which made our team a very unique and strong one. Although we all had different backgrounds we all shared similarities as well. Catherine, one of the mentees, was continuing her studies at Rutgers and Joy, was a graduate from Howard University. It was interesting being able to work with inspirational women who had so much to offer from their experiences in life. Joy, who is also a blogger and poet, stated that she loved telling stories and giving back to children. Catherine and I had a conversation on how important it is for Caribbean and African countries to learn to do for self. We worked with both male and female students which I must admit I loved. It allowed our group to have balance and it was very interesting to see the dynamics of the group flourish from the beginning to the very end.

Mentors starting from the right: Joy, Halima and Catherine. Joy also has a website please visit butterflydreamz.org

Mentors starting from the right: Joy, Halima and Catherine. Joy also has a website please visit butterflydreamz.org (P.S. Excuse my closed eyes)

 

The workshop composed of an icebreaker where we each introduced ourselves and from there we engaged into different activities where we were able to address issues which affected high school students. We played a game where we each took turn answering questions or having to do a certain action. For example, if you spin the arrow and it ended up on the red card you would have to read the card out loud and the entire group would have to do what the card said. On the other hand, other cards would give a question and the person would read the question and answer it. Then the card would say the person on your right, or maybe farthest away should answer the same question. While doing this activity it was amazing watching the demeanor of the students change. At first, I could tell they were a little nervous but as time passed they began to open up and in only 4 hours they felt comfortable with us, their mentors, and I felt comfortable with them, as my mentees. Towards the end of the workshop each group was divided into two smaller groups and were instructed to use words which were represented in our discussions earlier. We had to develop a statement or a question that would be impactful for a high school student. I had a great time watching the students come up with which words and phrases would work best. Watching them work together was such an uplifter. We finished the workshop with each group presenting posters with their statements written on them. These students attending West Side High School have so much potential. There is so much power in giving back to your community. Being able to give up my time, my energy, and my mind to these students was an honor and made me learn more about myself and about my community.

 

West Side High School students and their mentees show off their poster statements

West Side High School students and their mentees show off their poster statements

Our group's key words were: Dream, Accept, Support, and Future

Our group’s key words were: Dream, Learn, Accept, Support, and Future

I personally want to wish the graduating senior class of West Side High School the best. I pray that each and every one of you are able to find your talents and by God’s Grace it grows and flourishes.

Congratulations Class of 2015.

That Black Muslim Girl

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