The Future of Higher Education


Op woensdag 9 maart vond in Amsterdam 'The Future of Higher Education' conferentie plaats. Tijdens deze internationale conferentie over het hoger onderwijs mocht het EMI-programma Mentoren op Zuid zich presenteren. Programmaleider Nienke Fabries had twee studenten uitgenodigd om samen met haar het verhaal te doen. Eén van deze studenten was Annelou Molendijk, een oud-studentmentor die dit jaar afstudeert als leraar. Haar pitch lees je hieronder: 

'Good afternoon everybody, my name is Annelou Molendijk and I’m 20 years old. Three years ago I was one of the first students who participated at the program of mentoring.

The main reason I’ve chosen to be a part of this program, was to experience how it should be to be a mentor. As a student of the study to become a teacher in social science, I wanted to be prepared to be a mentor of a group students. This program really triggered me because of the challenges and chances of the suburbs of the South area of Rotterdam, where the program took place. For me it was a first acquaintance with this group of youth. Very soon I’ve experienced the value of mentoring. Not just for me as a student or future teacher, but mostly for the youth we’ve coached. I was a mentor of a girl of fourteen years old who has lost her mother during the time I was her coach. For her it was good to let me take the attention and focus away from school and home and just to talk with her about ‘normal life’. We’ve made cupcakes, made a drawing and did all other little things to make sure she didn’t think of the death of her mother every minute of the day. For me it was hard to see this little girl losing her mother and as she told me her best friend. She was alone now. And I’m grateful that I’ve had the chance to help her during that time.

Now, almost three years later, I am a proud teacher at Rotterdam South of students of the age of 12 till 16. And every day I use the skills I’ve learned and the experiences I’ve had with the program of mentoring. One of the true essences of the program is the personal attention you have as a mentor for your student. The relationship of trust and the bonding you have with the student makes that students feel seen.

As a studentmentor at the program, you’ll take at least one hour every week to spend time with your student, to help him or her, to just have a little chat, to talk about school and their future and even more, to be a role model. These children, they need this attention. Every human being has a need to belong and children even more. As a mentor, you’ll give the recognition that these children need and sometimes even never have experienced. The meaning of a mentor to the student and the other way around is priceless. And that all starts with the simple but almost magical power of the seeing of and truly listening to the child.

The one-on-one moments with my student at that time is an inspiration for my way of teaching nowadays. Every lesson, every day I try as a teacher to give my students the attention they need. But I also experience that that is a very big challenge. And that’s why this mentoring program is great.

This program makes a bridge between school, home and street. These mentors, who are young students, help the schoolchildren with school or personal stuff and they give the youth ful attention, advices and the future prospects that teachers or parents mostly can’t give in that way. The mentors have been through the same struggles and challenges as their students. They understand the youth, because they are from the same generation. In this way, they also positively influence these students during their conversations.

I’m proud that I’ve been a part of this program and that I use my experiences in my way of teaching now. It has been a big influence and it was an enrichment for me as a person. That’s why I think that every future teacher or youth worker should be a part of this program and must become a student mentor. Not only in The Netherlands, but in every country in Europe and especially in the big cities.

What we need from you, Europe, is to take the concept of the program with you and bring it to every suburb that needs it. If we want to make sure, that we don’t lose children or young adults, because they think they’re not smart enough to be well educated or not feeling a part of the society they live in, than we need to prevent that by starting with this program. We need to include them and we need the students of the same generation to give them their futures back.  Because we have seen these kids. I see them every day. I see their talents, their smiles, but their struggles and problems too. Now we need you to see them too. Europe, they need you to see them. Thank you. '' 

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