Mosaic is delighted to announce Azhar Kholwadia as our Hero of the Month for November 2015.
We asked him about his mentoring experiences with Mosaic.
What motivated you to want to become a mentor?
It was my mum who first introduced me to Mosaic, as she had been mentoring after another family member who was a mentor in London asked her to join. I decided to say yes as I thought I could help in play a role in plugging a gap that I had experienced in school, which was someone who wasn’t quite a ‘teacher’ to teach you about the curriculum, but not a ‘careers’ or ‘education’ advisor either who would teach and help you with careers and education. I wanted to play a role of someone who could relate to mentees, helping them to open up about what their thoughts, questions and worries might be that they may not be able to ask others, thus applying a different lens of looking and thinking of things and ultimately helping them fulfil their potential.
Please tell us about a particular rewarding or special experience you have had as a mentor?
I’d be hard pressed to find one particularly rewarding moment when mentoring, but one ice breaker that I’ve found to be particularly engaging with the mentees, where they need to build a tower with limited resources, with the winning team being those who can hold the most chocolates at the end. I’ve done this at the first session and last mentoring session, each time it has been great to see how far the mentees have progressed with their communication, teamwork, planning and confidence skills.
What have you learned from your time as a mentor?
2 things. One that even if it seems like the mentees may not see the value of your help and experience, stick at it as you’ll have one small moment in the next few weeks which will make it so worthwhile. Secondly, as a mentoring team your help and support for each is so important, from helping with the planning to being on time, it all adds up and gets you through the programme with a smile!
What have you found challenging about mentoring?
Knowing where to stop and let the mentee find the answer for themselves. I’ve found it difficult at times to stop myself from telling the mentee an answer to a question or problem, having learnt first hand from my mentor the benefits in finding the answer yourself.
And what do you do when you’re not volunteering?
I’m a Customer User Experience manager at Homeserve, where I’m helping with the rollout and implementation of a new computer system (sounds more fun than it reads!). I’m also doing a Psychology degree though the Open University, where I should hopefully graduate this year.
Mosaic has also allowed me to become part of Young Leaders UK, a group formed by the US Ambassador to the UK, consisting of young leaders looking to improve relations between the UK and US.
I’m recently engaged and have just and moved in with my fiance, so that has been keeping us busy and we are also both training to run the London Marathon for Save the Children in April, so any donation would be much appreciated!
Would you recommend being a Mosaic mentor to others?
Without a doubt. I don’t believe that there is a person in the world that doesn’t have a skill, experience or knowledge that someone else wouldn’t find valuable and learn from. Everyone remembers their favourite teacher or someone who inspires them. Mosaic mentors aim to deliver a similar experience and being able to say that you had a small part to play in developing and supporting a mentee is a feeling that words don’t do justice.
What makes a good mentor?
It’s all about making it relative to the mentees, both with the content of the sessions as well as yourselves Some of these students have to stay after school, or during their free period, so its key that we as mentors appreciate this and make not only ourselves as engaging and approachable as possible, but also ensuring that the content of our session is relevant to the mentees.
At the start of the last 2 secondary school programmes, I’ve used the first session to create a list of what topics the mentees would like to go over in the next few weeks, and keep referring back to it throughout the programme.
How do you feel about receiving the Hero of the Month Award?
Humbled. Every mentor at Mosaic is a hero for giving up their time and putting the effort in to Mentor, so to hear that I was recognised by my fellow mentors was very humbling.
If there was only one piece of advice you could give to a young person to achieve success, what would that be?
Keep yourself in good company and take the best attributes of them, then apply them to yourself. Take in as much knowledge, experience, skills and life lessons from them as you can. Not everything will be applicable to you, but for the golden nuggets that are seize them and apply them to yourself to help make yourself the best you can be.
Do you have any other personal reflections on Mosaic mentoring?
One of the most humbling experiences that I have had, meeting Nelson Mandela’s co-accused at Downing Street, was down to my involvement with Mosaic. I was fortunate enough attend a reception with David Cameron, and Dennis Goldberg and Ahmed Kathrada where they spoke about the struggles that they went through when imprisoned with Nelson Mandela, why they did what they did and what still needs to be done.
To be in with a chance of attending I had to write about who inspired me to think differently, and those people are my parents. Hearing the experiences of Dennis and Ahmed first hand was truly humbling and was an experience that I will never forget.