YouthCan! – April 7 2022

Cross-border Mentoring - Successful Pilot Programme on the YouthLinks Community

Through YouthLinks, the digital pillar of YouthCan!, online mentoring opportunities for young people transitioning into independence have already been well established. However, opening online mentoring across borders may offer many more opportunities: 22-year old Hussein Tariq, a young person within SOS Children’s Villages Jordan Semi Independent Living Programme, talks about his experiences.

While the YouthLinks Community (a new professionalized online platform for YouthCan!) was piloted on national levels, the scope was further expanded to a cross-border mentoring pilot on the platform: From October 2021 to February 2022, the opportunity was offered to volunteers from our global YouthCan! partners and young people from the SOS Children’s Villages International Youth Coalition, the YouthCan! Youth Advisory Board and additional young participants from the YouthLinks Community pilot country Ghana. The programme has proven to be a big success, as the final report shows:

Why young people join: “Learning new things and practicing English”

Hussain Tariq who grew up in the SOS Children's Village in Aqaba, Jordan (also a member of the International Youth Coalition) greatly benefited from his participation. "I joined because I want to learn new things and practice my English", the 22-year old university student recalls. "My mentor Nikole was a volunteer from the German company Siegwerk. She is an amazing woman. She taught me a lot of work-related things."


Program innovations: digital platform & mentoring content materials

Through the support of a suggesting matching algorithm on the YouthLinks Community, corporate volunteers were paired up with one young person each. While the mentors receive a training and make themselves familiar with the slide decks for the different topics, the mentees choose units they specifically wan to cover in the course of the three months programme. The available materials ranges from how to write a CV to preparing for a job interview.

"One of the amazing things in this mentorship was the materials", says Hussain. The duo selected ten topics and subsequently voted for the sessions they want to cover during the mentoring. Hussain mentions: “Nikole explained to me, for example, that if you want to be professional at your CV, you need to create a CV that is professionally and individually tailored for the job."


Intercultural communication can break the ice: Merhaba!

Although Nikole and Hussain hit it off from the start, in the first meeting the both had to break the ice. Hussain laughs: "I told her I want to teach her a word in Arabic and in the next session you are going to teach me a word in German. I taught her "Hi" in Arabic - it's Merhaba.”

Hussain further empathizes the benefit of having such exchange mentors from abroad. “I learned something about a different culture and was able to practice English.”


There is always space to improve

Speaking about cultural differences - while Hussain is fully satisfied with the mentorship he would only rate it an eight out of ten. "In the Arab culture we can't give it a ten. From my perspective, this would be for something that is perfect - and that would be God. So we give an eight to be fair."

Hussain concludes that for him, it would be an asset if the programme could also offer internships. "The participants are in the last year of university and they want to have a training, or maybe Nikole can offer workshops online and give a certificate from her company."


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