Mentoring – Entering a New Experience

I recently signed up to become a mentor in the new program Studio Art Quilt Associates has put into operation.  Potential mentors and mentoring applicants each fill out an online application form. Those applying to be mentored are termed ‘mentees’, a word none of us likes much, but despite looking around I’ve found no apparent synonym.

At different times in my life there have been several people who, by showing or suggesting possible ways forward towards my goals have in effect mentored me.   It was not always fibre art related.  For a time, usually briefly, each of those people shared background and experience, knowledge, wisdom perhaps, that was at the time much greater than my own, and I value what they passed on.    I realised when this call went out that I have many years’ experience in textile and fibre art, and, before my life became rather peripatetic, I taught at secondary school level.  It’s always pleased me to encounter an adult I used to teach as a young kid, because even in the case of several known ratbags who were/are not all bad, I feel that I positively influenced each person in some way.  The mentor’s form required some outline of fibre art and quiltmaking experience, and asked about motivation to mentor.

The applicants filled out a form checking off areas of quilt art practice they feel they want help with, and outlined their goals  against which to measure progress over the coming year.   With that they submitted images of their work so far.  I was shown several applications to see if I thought I could work with one of them.  I chose one, Julie from a small western US town, because her goals were clearly formed, and, over the recommended commitment of one year, realistically attainable.

So the process has begun, we’ve emailed a couple of times and talked once over skype with another chat scheduled for a few weeks’ time.  I don’t expect to be bombarded with reports, as the rate of scheduling contact is hers, not imposed by me, and leaves her plenty of time to get on with things.  I gather through contact with the mentors’ online chat group that some mentors have weekly progress reports or even phone talks set up – does  that make me off hand, not committed?   I don’t think so – it could be some other mentees are needier, and maybe certain important goals are looming fast, or maybe some are looking to their mentors to spoon feed them with over protective hand holding.  It could also been some neediness on the part of one or two mentors!

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