BECOME AN INTERNATIONAL YOUTH MENTOR OR MENTEE
Note: During the Covid-19 pandemic, our International Mentoring Program is occurring online, by phone and/or in person depending on the preferences of our mentors and mentees. Further, in 2021-2022, we are transitioning the Program from one-on-one mentoring of youth ages 8-18 in Washington DC and El Salvador, to group training of family diplomats worldwide ages 14 and up.
Learning Life is a nonprofit education and citizen engagement lab based in Washington, DC. Our flagship program, the Family Diplomacy Initiative (FDI), connects families in different nations via the internet to nurture a family-to-family form of citizen diplomacy. In support of FDI, we run an international mentoring program that helps open the world to selected kids from our lower-income families in DC and abroad.
What Our Mentors Do
Our mentors and mentees are generally matched by gender. Once matched, our mentors in DC and our youth living abroad connect online via Facebook, Whatsapp or another internet platform, learn about each other, read about, watch and discuss local to global topics and issues together using readings, photos and videos, and explore educational opportunities for the mentee. Mentors and mentees who both live in DC do the same, but in person, and also visit metro DC museums, embassies, cultural events, foreign restaurants, etc.
Learning Life mentors commit to meeting with their mentee at least once per month — at least twice per month for mentors who meet strictly online with their mentees abroad — preferably at regular days and times, often but not always on weekends, for at least one year. Mentors are also expected to participate in a learning community with fellow Learning Life mentors. This includes an email list, and once-per-month 1.5 hour weekday evening meetings via Zoom of small groups of six or fewer mentors to share their experiences, ideas and resources, and learn about mentoring and related issues.
The Mentors We Are Looking For
First and foremost, prospective mentors should be caring, patient adults who like working with children. Prospective mentors should have at least a bachelor’s degree, or be in college to complete one. They should also have a demonstrated interest in international affairs through study, work, and/or experience living outside the USA. Prospective mentors who wish to mentor one of our children abroad should speak Spanish or French at an advanced to fluent level.
For mentors of DC kids only: You should have a car or be willing to pay for a taxi or rental car to accompany your mentee back and forth from their home in Ward 7 or 8 in NE or SE DC to the day’s experience site(s). You should be willing to provide or pay for a snack if not a meal with your mentee during your time together. You should also be willing to pay for entry fees to any museums, festivals or other venues/activities you choose, though we encourage you to take advantage of the many free venues and activities available in metro Washington DC, and we provide our mentors with a list of many of these free opportunities.
To Become a Mentor
Prospective mentors submit their resume for review, have an interview with Learning Life staff, and pay for a criminal background check (cost: $25). Once these screening steps have been taken and the applicant passes their background check, the mentor meets with Learning Life staff for a mentoring orientation, and with staff plus their new mentee, and the mentee’s family to get to know each other. From then on, the mentor meets at least once monthly with their mentee, and with their mentor group once per month. Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions, or to submit your resume for consideration.
To Become a Mentee
Parents or legal guardians interested in a Learning Life mentor for their child or children should be members of our Family Diplomacy Initiative’s (FDI) Facebook group that engages families internationally. In addition, families must have income below their country’s annual household median income, and parents/guardians with less than a bachelor’s degree or 4 years of university. Families in Washington DC should live in DC Wards 7 or 8, located east of the Anacostia River. Parents or legal guardians who believe they fit these conditions and would like a mentor for their child or children should email Learning Life at at email@example.com to schedule an initial screening to ensure eligibility.