It’s fascinating how our memory works. Some situations are stored and recalled so clearly; some have been blocked out forever, yet others are recalled when triggered by certain pictures, songs or even scents.
One of my most vivid memories is from a day in middle school when I was called to the principal’s office and told that I had a new mentor.
I had no idea what this meant, but at a time when other kids were being cruel and mean, I felt very lucky to have a new adult friend.
His name was Erik Dambergs and he was a tall, well-dressed engineer, who was obviously very busy and important. To think that he’d gone out of his way to see me made me feel so special!
During that year, Erik taught me so much about how really cool life could be. We visited factories, had engineering competitions and even ate lunch at fancy restaurants with other professionals.
As it turned out, he also inspired a lifelong love of learning, doing and giving back. Growing up, I continued seeking other mentors and life teachers as I gained new skills and experiences. And to this day, one of my greatest pleasures is discovering ways to contribute and help others, just as Erik helped me.
Strong role models are pivotal for development, especially for children. As a parent, I too rushed out to buy Baby Einstein DVDs, brain development toys and educational gadgets for my own kids, but research confirms what I already knew.
Nearly all learning takes place either by observation or interaction with REAL people. People like you, me and Erik. There’s just no substitute. That’s why – with National Mentoring Month just concluding – I hope you’ll be inspired to become a mentor and change the life of a child. More than likely, it will change your life too!
If you would like to become a mentor for local students, click here to learn more.
Arig Wageeh Elhamouly
Interfaith School Turnaround Project (IFSTP)
Heart of Florida United Way