Author: Danielle D’Alonzo, senior
Last year, we could only see our classmates’ faces in little Zoom boxes. All of the events that usually bring people together, like Club Fair and Spring Weekend, were canceled. Many of our friends did not even come to campus. At a moment when human interactions were so restricted, I was grateful for a chance to experience myself and others as social beings.
The new Youth Engagement Program builds unity and understanding between two communities: Fordham Rose Hill Honors Program, and Jonas Bronck Academy, the middle school across the street from our campus. Each Fordham student is paired with a JBA student in a one-on-one mentoring relationship. As preparation for the program, Fordham students met with JBA staff to complete training sessions on the theory and practice of mentoring. Some of the main lessons were that the mentors should encourage goal-setting, a healthy work/life balance, and personal and civic responsibility.
Once the weekly meetings began, things became more free-form, with each mentor-mentee pair charting their own path. Whether it was through casual chatting or helping with homework, talking about mental health, or playing video games, the mentors helped the mentees achieve their goals and maintain their social and emotional wellbeing. That is not to say that the mentors did not learn and grow from the meetings, as well. At the end of the semester, when all of the program participants came together, mentors and mentees alike expressed the same sentiments. “It’s so nice to have somebody to talk to, and somebody to listen to.” “It’s really fun to share my interests with my mentor/mentee.” “I am learning so much from the weekly meetings.”
I truly appreciate the trust and rapport that my mentee and I built together, and I hope that she feels the same way. I have high hopes that this program will keep thriving, and expanding our social lives even after we say goodbye to Zoom!