Mentor Program Adjusts to Pandemic

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Submitted by Aman Rahman

Senior Aman Rahman’s set-up for mentoring.

This year’s mentorship program, like many other school traditions, has undergone renovations. Most years, when meetings are set up between 9th graders and their respective student mentors, they are conducted in-person, and occur at regular dates. However, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has presented the organizers of the program with a unique set of obstacles.

Senior Aman Rahman, member of USC, is entering her second year as a mentor, and the contrast between this year and the last is already clear.

In a regular year, the mentorship program would include games and other activities to help the ninth-graders connect with their mentors. However, being conducted over Google Meet, the distance created by screens makes such connections far more difficult For Rahman, this is one of the greatest challenges the program has encountered. “It’s a lot more awkward online,” Rahman said. “You definitely have to make more of an effort, especially when meeting new people.”

“It’s a lot more awkward online. You definitely have to make more of an effort, especially when meeting new people.””

— Aman Rahman

In order to combat these difficulties, USC has been searching for ways to make the meetings more engaging. “We decided to try to have some sort of bigger group meeting online to help make it more fun,” Rahman said. “Our first initial meeting was a quick half hour get to know your mentor and your mentees. We gave the mentors a list of questions that they can ask—anything to get past that initial awkwardness.”

Despite all of the challenges, new ninth-grader Aurelia Meza has found the program helpful. “Though they can’t tell you much about the school, because we aren’t in school, it’s nice to talk to people who’ve had a lot of experience at SPA,” Meza said.

Conversing online can be awkward, but the program has helped Meza feel more comfortable. As a new student, her opportunities to meet with her classmates outside of a classroom setting have been limited, making the mentor program an important way for her to connect with other ninth-graders as well as students in other grades. “It’s kind of hard to talk to people online,” Meza said. “But I got to meet a couple new people which was pretty cool.”

The pandemic has presented many challenges to the SPA community. In spite of this, the mentor program, however different from past years, continues to provide guidance for ninth-graders through their first year in high school.