We recently surveyed IMFFA members to find out whether our families, especially those who have spent a significant portion of their growing-up years outside of their parents’ culture, would be interested to participate in a mentoring program for teens and young adults. In the survey, amongst other things, we asked whether families would want to participate, which aspects of the proposed program they found most interesting, preferred duration, and how much people would be prepared to contribute as a co-pay. We’d like to share the results of that survey here, and tell you about other developments coming up.
The definition of “mentor” from Dictionary.com is “wise adviser”, or someone who teaches or gives help and advice to a less experienced and often younger person. Mentoring is widely used in educational and corporate settings to provide support and pass on wisdom and experience.
It is well documented that teens and young adults growing up in international settings and outside of their parents’ culture may experience a sense of alienation, of “not belonging”. This can translate into feelings of rootlessness that can impact the transition into adulthood and ability to navigate the challenges of tertiary education and finding a job. Effective mentoring can help to mitigate and offset these effects.
Who Responded to Our Survey?
We received 52 responses to our survey, with a significant proportion of the respondents being either parents of, or themselves, kids aged 15 – 23. Eighty-five percent of respondents identified themselves as third-culture kids (TCKs) or cross-culture kids (CCKs). You can read a previous Chronicles article on TCKs and CCKs here.
Mentoring Grounded in a Research-based Curriculum
The early part of the survey described the specific mentoring program that we have been looking into. Offered by Sea Change Mentoring (www.seachangementoring.com), the program pairs up young adults who have grown up internationally with mentors with similar backgrounds who now have a successful career and fulfilling life. The mentor-protégé pairs explore careers, post-secondary education options and other opportunities to apply the skills and insights they have acquired towards their career, academic and personal goals. Their weekly conversations are guided by a research-based curriculum designed to build skills such as global citizenship, innovation and cultural adaptability. Protégés also gain access to a network of other TCKs and CCKs from around the world.
The majority of the responses we got to our survey were positive about the idea and benefits of mentoring for young people – 86% of respondents felt that the Sea Change or a similar program would be valuable. Access to internships, job openings and career development were identified as the most important benefits. Weekly conversations with a mentor who had gone through similar experiences growing up scored highly too.
Almost half of the respondents said they or their child would be interested to participate in the program. Most liked the idea of an 8-9 month program that followed the school year, and were prepared to make a personal contribution of around $10 per week to help cover expenses.
Mentoring Boosts Self Confidence
A number of respondents took the time to provide their personal perspectives. One respondent commented that s/he had had the opportunity to meet with several mentors on a regular basis while growing up/studying in a foreign country, and that this had helped boost his/her self-confidence and ambition. Another respondent commented that s/he thought the program would be especially useful for families new to the US and unfamiliar with the college system here.
Where to from here?
Based on the generally positive feedback that we received, we’re continuing our discussions with Sea Change Mentoring. We’re looking into the option of offering their program on a pilot basis to a small number of families, in order to assess demand and tailor the program specifically to suit IMFFA families’ needs. We are also hoping to invite the founder of Sea Change Mentoring to present workshops and information sessions for IMFFA families on growing up internationally and the challenges for TCKs and CCKs. If you’d like to help to set up this program, or are just interested in staying informed, please send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also check the IMFFA Weekly Update for news and information about upcoming events.
Lucky Winner of the Amazon Gift Card!
All respondents who included their name and email address at the end of the survey went into our draw to win an Amazon Gift Card kindly provided by Sea Change Mentoring. The lucky winner was Stephanie Kamaruzzamam. Thanks again to everyone who participated.