From Scholar to Mentor: A Conversation with Nyanjugu Jackson Magina, GLAMI Mentor
Last week, GLAMI Mentor Nyanjugu Jackson Magina joined AfricAid for a Tupo Pamoja Live Session to speak with us about her experience as a new Mentor. A recent Kisa alumna herself, Nyanjugu shares what it’s like to switch roles from Scholar to Mentor and a few of the lessons and activities already underway this year.
What was your reaction when you learned GLAMI was looking for Mentors? Did you apply immediately or was it something you needed to think about for a little bit?
NJ: I knew right away that I wanted to apply to be a mentor! Mentorship has been part of my life; I worked as a girls’ mentor at Cornerstone Leadership Academy after graduating from high school. That’s where I developed a passion for being a mentor. I realized that most girls need someone to talk to, to trust someone, and to inspire them. And I believe that I’m now in the right place for that.
As you think back to the days when you were a Scholar that had a Mentor, what was your favorite lesson that stayed with you the most?
NJ: Technology and digital security! I remember once my Mentor told me ‘the internet never forgets,’ so it reminds me what I should and should not post on Instagram. During university, I always remembered this.
What is it like so far to be on the other side – to be a Mentor instead of a Scholar?
NJ: It feels very amazing! I like when the girls come to me and explain their problems, they’re excited to have someone to talk to.
What is the training like to be a mentor? What is the most important piece of being a Mentor that you need to know going in?
NJ: Effective listening skills and giving feedback to the Mentees.
How many girls are you a mentor for now, and what do you do on the very first day you meet with them?
NJ: More than 250 girls! First, I introduced myself. I was worried if they were going to really like me, so we played a lot of games to get to know each other. And they were so excited to meet me; they said they wanted me to be their Mentor forever.
What does a Mentor’s morning look like?
NJ: When I wake up in the morning, I remember that I have amazing girls waiting for me, and I’m so excited to see them. When I reach the office, I prepare a little message for them. Sometimes I write them on sticky-notes and I write things like “have a great day,” “you are pretty,” “keep it up,” to boost up their moods!
Have there been any interesting or challenging things that you’ve encountered that you didn’t really expect?
NJ: It is challenging to want to be perfect, because the girls see you as a role model and they believe that you are perfect and that everything you’re doing is right. That can be a challenge!
Have you gotten any good feedback from the girls about ways that your mentoring is already helping?
NJ: Yes! With the topic of creative problem-solving. Some of my students were failing their exams and giving up, and I told them that they can come up with creative ways to help them perform well during their exams. I told them my life story to help, and after the end of the session, they told me that it was really helpful. I believe that you can really boost someone up that way and help them do well.
This month you’ll be starting Health Sessions where the girls will talk about health topics, can you give us some insight into that part of the curriculum?
NJ: Yes, next week! So this week we asked them to write down questions that they want to discuss about women’s health and the reproductive system. For example, some want to know what a period or hormone imbalance is. They have a lot of questions that pop up in their minds that they don’t really know the answer to. This session, they will focus mainly on reproductive health.
Have the Scholars started working on their 2 Day Challenge projects yet?
NJ: Yes, they were working on them today! Some of them are doing toilet rehabilitations. So they are painting the rooms and putting locks on the doors. Another group is providing reproductive health education to their fellow girls who are not in GLAMI programs.
What are you most looking forward to as a Mentor as the year progresses? Are there any particular events or lessons that you are excited about teaching the girls?
NJ: I’m looking forward to seeing my girls become great leaders in Tanzania and the girls who believe that they can change their communities. In our communities, there are a lot of problems and the girls do community assessments to come up with ideas to solve these problems. I’m really looking forward to helping them address those challenges and go out into their communities!
Is your Mentor from when you were a Kisa Scholar still working with GLAMI or has she moved on to another job?
NJ: I actually had two Mentors, Madam Eliakunda, who now runs her own organization, and Madam Nice, who works as a lecturer at a Tanzanian university.
Is there anything else that you’d like to share or about what it’s like to be a Mentor or a Scholar, or any advice you’d like to give to anyone who may be tuning into this conversation?
NJ: I want them to know that they are great- girls are great and they should get rid of their inferiority complexes! Girls can do anything, and they should believe in themselves and know they are great leaders and can change their communities.
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