I was once questioned by a teenage student of mine, ‘Why are you so concerned about me when no one else cares?’ I had tried to enquire why she looked low one morning many years ago in one of my higher secondary classes in a prominent school in the Republic of Maldives, where I worked for six years. I didn’t have an immediate answer, but it prompted me to think about the question later. I knew that this student was going through a difficult time. She was at the cusp of getting used to being part of a broken family and was doing drugs.
When I genuinely tried to enquire about her condition, the retort baffled me and could have either meant, why I was the lone concerned person or what the true motive behind my query was. I will never be able to know what she meant, but I understood one thing that day and that was, more and more youngsters find themselves in conditions where they don’t have a support system to cling on to. In the midst of the bedlam and hopelessness that they go through, they find it hard to believe that someone could actually be their ally.
Mentoring calls for a heart to understand others, all the more important when youngsters are involved. I have put in nineteen years of teaching and the age group that I have taught has been between 14 and 21.With whatever experience I have dealing with students from this group, I can say that they are a generation which is looking for a helping hand, a listening ear and a few words of encouragement. This is the mantra that can make a tremendous difference in their life. Very often we are so caught up in the busyness of teaching that we do not have these three components in our makeup and thereby lose out on opportunities to transform lives.
Our pupils are longing for just this bit from us and if we can show some heart for them, they will treasure this gesture and be grateful for the transformation that it would have brought about in their lives.