Welcoming the Stranger views mentoring as an informal cross-cultural friendship and partnership. Mentors partner with a mentee/mentee family to help them navigate their new community and learn about available resources. The relationship may be as fluid and open-ended as works for everyone involved and may encompass a broad array of interactions. Mentors might help with such things as:
- locating resources for food, clothing and household goods
- providing occasional transportation to appointments
- facilitating connections with schools
- practicing English
- writing resumes and applying for jobs
- prepping for a driver’s license
- locating and participating in fun outings
One newly arrived individual or family might quickly settle in an apartment and make their own connections, only asking for an occasional ride or cooking tip; another might seek hands-on help with negotiating the Metro system or bureaucratic red tape while others may just want to practice English. However, mentors may also need to be proactive in figuring out how to best assist their mentees. Most fundamentally, a mentor’s job is to be a friend and support at a time of need.
Mentor/mentee relationship are determined by both parties. Starting out we ask mentors to meet with their mentees at least once a week to help establish a relationship. Then you can decide how much time everyone wants to spend together.
During the beginning it is important to respect the privacy of your mentee(s) who often come from traumatic experiences, and not press them for personal information. As the relationship develops and grows more comfortable, it will be up to mentees to decide if they want to share more information.
Mentors are not expected to be legal advocates, social workers, case managers or experts at anything; their primary task is simply to be a dependable, trusted friend for newcomers who would otherwise feel alone in a strange new world.
If questions or issues arise, mentors have access to support from our Mentor Google group and this website’s Resources section.
If being a mentor doesn’t work out for any reason, we hope you will work with the WTS coordinator to figure out a smooth transition to end the relationship.