Friday, February 21, 2014

A Mentor's Perspective from Diane Weisz Young

Soon after my arrival in Zambia, I had the pleasure of connecting with The Kucetekela Foundation (KF). I had the opportunity to join them in their work by assisting the staff and serving as a local board member.

In order to become more integrated and involved with KF, I decided it would be a wonderful experience to also become a KF Mentor. So I was matched with a Grade 10 KF Scholar named Nathan Musweu at the Pestalozzi School in October.

When I first met my mentee, I was with my own two children, who are also secondary students in Lusaka, Zambia. Nathan, my mentee, proudly gave my children and me a tour of his school. He was quiet, but clearly intelligent and warm-hearted. We talked a lot about volleyball because Nathan plays at his school and my children also play at their school.

Nathan told us about his family, and how much receiving a KF scholarship means to him and his family. He is one of five children. The KF scholarship provides Nathan with a great education and also opens up the possibility for his family to provide his siblings with an education as well.

The following month, I introduced Nathan to my husband. We took him out for lunch and a movie. We had planned to see “Mandela”, but when we arrived at the theatre Nathan noticed that “The Hunger Games 2” was showing. He mentioned that he’d read the first book and had begun reading the second one. He clearly wanted to see “The Hunger Games 2,” but politely told us he would be happy to see any movie. My husband encouraged me to change my mind and we saw “The Hunger Games 2.”

Before the start of the movie, Nathan told my husband that he was about to see his first movie in a theatre. I was stunned by this news. It made me appreciate seeing a movie with Nathan even more. I know he really enjoyed seeing the movie and was tremendously appreciative of the experience.

We have now entered a new year and a new school year. In January, when the school year begins in Zambia, Nathan started Grade 11. In 2014, I have already taken him and a friend more than once to see my children play basketball at the American School in Lusaka. As Nathan and I get to know one another better, our conversations become more natural and easy. I hope that by spending time with him and by exposing him to aspects of life he wouldn’t normally encounter, I am encouraging Nathan to continue to be a good student and remain open and curious.

At the end of the day, I hope Nathan gets just as much, if not more, out of our interactions and new experiences as I do.