Cathryn, EVS mentor: Being a mentor is a rewarding experience
Cathryn decided to share her passion for Welsh culture, heritage and language and became a mentor for volunteers who are coming to Cardiff through the European Voluntary Service (EVS) programme. Read how she helps them with integration.
Cathryn Evans, originally from North Wales, is currently working as a project coordinator in Boys’ and Girls’ Clubs of Wales. Having previous experience with being a mentor for students in university, Cathryn decided to share her passion for Welsh culture, heritage and language and became a mentor for international volunteers who are coming to Cardiff through European Voluntary Service (EVS) program. As a mentor she provides personal support for volunteers and helps them with integration into the local community.
“Before I became a mentor for EVS volunteers I panicked, thinking that being a mentor is a lot of responsibility. I didn’t know what being a mentor was so I went to session organised by UNA Exchange with EVS coordinator Leila Usmani, to learn about what my role should be. I think the mentor’s training prepared me for the worst- for someone who will not be able to speak the language very well, who will need lot of help with doctors or opening bank account. In the end I was a little bit surprised how self-sufficient EVS volunteers were. From my understanding it is being somebody that is for the EVS volunteer to talk to and confide in. When they feel like they need to, they don’t understand something in the workplace or they feel uncomfortable.
The volunteer gains a friend, not just a mentor
I think it is good for the volunteer that they gain a friend through this, not just a mentor. Lioba, the German girl I am currently mentoring, has somebody who is already living in Wales and she doesn’t have to worry that she is coming to the place on her own. I met her just day after she arrived so she knew she has always somebody who is there for her to contact when she needs to.
I really enjoy being a mentor, because it’s a rewarding experience that doesn’t take a lot of my time. So far I have been a mentor for two EVS volunteers and they have both been quite self-sufficient and they liked to do their own things. I really enjoy getting to know the volunteers, meeting new people and having coffee with them as I am quite sociable. I personally see myself more as a friend than a mentor. They do ask me about locations where they should visit in the UK (especially Wales because I am Welsh) I’m a first language Welsh speaker and very passionate about the country so I created an information booklet for them. From that they can find out about history of Cardiff, medical care, culture events and places to eat.
Understanding volunteers from different backgrounds
I enjoy talking with people from other countries and I keep in touch with all EVS volunteers I met. I like the responsibility and I think I learnt to understand more about the needs of the volunteer when they are from different cultures or backgrounds.
Being an EVS mentor is a fantastic opportunity for somebody to get their hands into. It is a rewarding experience to know someone and carry on knowing them after a year. You learn about their traditions and some of them cook for you (I cook for them too…) To have that experience on your CV is something quite brilliant, not many people will have the experience of doing it. It is definitely something I would recommend. “
- Become a mentor and friend for EVS volunteers coming to Wales! Put your skills and time in order to help young volunteers from abroad to adapt to a new environment in the local community.
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