Mosaic is delighted to announce Nageen Faruqi as our Hero of the Month for February 2016.
We asked her about her mentoring experiences with Mosaic.
What motivated you to want to become a mentor?
As I was working less and my children were becoming more self-sufficient it was definitely time for me to make a contribution outside of my own family. I considered many charities but as soon as I heard about Mosaic I knew mentoring was what I wanted to do. I like spending time with children and as I was a very shy child I felt could relate to the ones that lacked confidence.
Please tell us about a particular rewarding or special experience you have had as a mentor?
This is a difficult question as every experience has been rewarding. A few weeks ago I, together with the other mentors, went back to visit the girls at the first school we mentored at. The girls were about to graduate and move on to senior school so we wanted to see them one last time and wish them the best for the future. The link teacher organised for all of them to come in and tell us how Mosaic had changed them. Many of them said how they contributed more in class and spoke more, two said they were participating in sports after they realised sports were not just for boys. One girl says she now can share her thoughts more easily.
They had such an air of confidence and dignity about them when they spoke; it was wonderful to be in their company.
What have you learned from your time as a mentor?
I’ve learned so many things. First of all I am always amazed by how smart children are when you take the time to listen. I should be used to it by now but they still surprise me every term. It confirms that academic achievement is not always correlated with emotional and social intelligence and I worry about whether our current education system recognises that.
I relearn all the life skills in the programme every time we teach them. Without a doubt these constant reminders have helped me in my own development.
What have you found challenging about mentoring?
It’s hard to see children struggling to express themselves or when they decide not to participate as it is too much of a challenge to speak out. Sometimes you try every approach but they still don’t open up. The funny thing is that it’s usually these children who come up with the most profound statements near the end of the lesson. Just when you think you’ve made a massive breakthrough you find you have to start all over again at the beginning of the next lesson.
And what do you do when you’re not volunteering?
I used to be a management consultant and stopped working a few years ago to spend more time with my own children. During this time I became very interested in mindfulness and meditation. Earlier this year I qualified as a mindfulness teacher for primary school children and have just started teaching.
Would you recommend being a Mosaic mentor to others?
I do and I have. It’s a hugely positive, enjoyable and rewarding experience. The quality of the primary school programme is outstanding; there are so many excellent messages in it. The Mosaic team is professional and very appreciative of our efforts.
I’ve only mentored in a secondary school once and feel I need more experience of that programme before speaking about it.
What makes a good mentor?
A good mentor sees the positives in a child and acknowledges and celebrates every breakthrough no matter how small. The mentor has to have faith that the work they do is having, and will continue to have, a positive impact.
You have to be open minded, patient and non-judgemental.
How do you feel about receiving the Hero of the Month Award?
It’s an incredible honour, especially as I have already gained so much already. Thank you.
If there was only one piece of advice you could give to a young person to achieve success, what would that be?
Go through life experiencing as much as you can until you find the one thing you’re good at and that you’re passionate about. Life is a lot of fun when you are doing something you love.
Don’t worry if schoolwork, sports or being popular is not your thing – there is something in everyone that makes them special. Sometimes it just takes a bit of time to find it so never give up or stop believing in yourself.