Through YouthLinks, the digital pillar of YouthCan!, online mentoring opportunities for young people transitioning into independence have already been well established. However, opening online mentoring across borders may offer many more opportunities. 22-year old Hussein Tariq, a young person within SOS Children’s Villages in Jordan's Semi-Independent Living Program, talks about his experiences.
The YouthLinks Community is a newly professionalized online platform for YouthCan!. It was piloted on national levels initially, before the scope was further expanded to a cross-border mentoring pilot. From October 2021 to February 2022, the opportunity was offered to volunteers from our global YouthCan! partners, young people from the SOS Children’s Villages International Youth Coalition, the YouthCan! Youth Advisory Board and additional young participants from the YouthLinks Community pilot country, Ghana.
Why young people join: “Learning new things and practicing English”
Hussain Tariq, who grew up at the SOS Children's Village in Aqaba, Jordan and is a member of the International Youth Coalition, greatly benefited from his participation. "I joined because I want to learn new things and practice my English", the 22-year old university student recalls. "My mentor, Nikole, was a volunteer from the German company Siegwerk. She is an amazing woman. She taught me a lot of work-related things."
Program innovations: Digital platform & mentoring content materials
Through the support of a suggesting matching algorithm, corporate volunteers were each paired up with one young person. While the mentors receive a training and make themselves familiar with the slide decks for the different topics, the mentees choose units they specifically want to cover over the course of the three months program. The available materials ranges from how to write a CV to preparing for a job interview.
"One of the most amazing things in this mentorship was the materials," says Hussain. The pair selected ten topics and subsequently voted for the sessions they wanted to cover during the mentoring. Hussain mentions, “Nikole explained to me, for example, that if you want to be professional at your CV, you need to create a CV that is professionally and individually tailored for the job."
Intercultural communication can break the ice: Merhaba!
Although Nikole and Hussain hit it off from the start, in the first meeting the both had to break the ice. Hussain says, "I told her I want to teach her a word in Arabic and in the next session you are going to teach me a word in German. I taught her "Hi" in Arabic; it's Merhaba.”
Hussain further emphasizes the benefit of having such exchange mentors from abroad. “I learned something about a different culture and was able to practice English.”