Afia and Safiyya

In this post, longtime Prime Mentors of Canada volunteer mentor, Guy Hamel, shares a note about his 2015-2016 protégés Afia and Safiyya from Thorncliffe Junior Public School.

Originally, I met with each of the girls separately to discuss possible topics and approaches to the research that would be involved. I knew that the two were classmates and close friends. I met with the two together with the notion that each could, once the separate presentations were close to completion, step in as an assistant. I had worked with such arrangements a few times in the past. However, during that initial meeting I realized that the two were extremely congenial, worked together intimately as a team, offered advice, challenged suggestions, were remarkably creative. Their enthusiasm as workmates was an irresistible asset; and I recognized that we should meet together, each of the girls taking a turn as presenter and assistant.

The topics chosen—Safiyya on The Human Brain and Afia on The Human Immune System—were extremely challenging. The presenters realized that they had to demonstrate rather than relate the information they wished to share with their audience. Thy found ways to involve their listeners. They invented what they called “skits”—dramatic interchanges between the two of them—to make certain points, as in demonstrating the cognitive process in decision making from prefrontal cortex to the amygdala and back to the reasoning function to invoke rationalization. They were clever, engaging, and successful.

The result of the project for me was an extremely happy association with my young colleagues; the result for them was to receive scholarships for the outstanding quality of their presentation.

Guy Hamel
Mentor, PMC

Congratulations to Afia and Safiyya and Guy on a job well done!

2015-2016 PMC Afia (left) and Safiyya
Prime Mentors of Canada 2015-2016 Scholarship Winners Afia A. and Safiyya I.

What It’s Like to be a Volunteer Mentor with Prime Mentors

Hi everyone,

This is Winnie and I’m your guest blogger for this post. I’ve volunteered as a mentor with Prime Mentors of Canada five times and I’m not done yet!

Here’s some information on what to expect if you decide to volunteer with Prime Mentors:

  1. You’ll receive training during an orientation session and support throughout your time as a volunteer.
  2. You’ll be matched up with a student depending on your preferred location within Toronto and your interests.
  3. You’ll work with the student for about one hour a week during school hours, for about 10 weeks, on an extracurricular project that the student is interested in completing.
  4. The project is capped off with a presentation by the student in front of his/her class and invited guests (parents, school staff, other Prime Mentors volunteers).

Now here are some of my tips for mentoring:

  1. Be open to learning about a brand new topic! The projects I’ve mentored on include photography and photo editing, the Big Bang and the Big Crunch, and AC/DC (yes, the rock band!). I wasn’t familiar with any of these subjects so I had the opportunity to learn with the student.

notes from AC/DC project
Notes from AC/DC project

  1. Keep the presentation in mind! Work towards the presentation from early on.
  2. Be ready to be surprised! Unexpected things will come up. Some might be frustrating but others will be fun and amazing. For one presentation we changed the presentation time multiple times when one scheduling conflict came up after another. During another presentation on Photography and Photo Editing the student brought in Jello to share with the class since gelatin is used in photo development and it’s a key ingredient in Jello.
  3. Even when you’re the mentor, don’t be afraid to ask for guidance! Prime Mentors program coordinators, school staff, and other volunteers are great resources.

By the time the project comes to an end you’ll have put in work, just like the student, and just like the student, you will have learned something worthwhile. If you live in Toronto and you can find the time, please consider volunteering with Prime Mentors of Canada!

If you have any questions about volunteering with Prime Mentors or if you have any tips to share, feel free to leave a comment!

Check out the website to learn more about becoming a volunteer with Prime Mentors of Canada. The first orientation session is Sunday, August 30 and additional sessions will be held throughout the fall. Please email or call 416-267-9938 for details or to sign up.

Orientation sessions will be held in the fall.