Mentor of the Stars Program
With one-on-one teaching method, “Mentor of the Stars” provides tailored personality courses and psychological guidance, outside academic lectures.
As the children experience a lack of family education and company, EWB strives to provide precise, personalized and long-term educational aid. On March 15, 2019, EWB commenced “Mentor of the Stars” and assigned a different mentor for each child, so that reliable associations could be guaranteed.
“Yorozuya” (House of 10,000 Businesses)
“I passed all my make-up exams!” On the very last day in 2021, X (alias) shared the great news in the “backup group” on WeChat.
When I met X back in 2020, she was studying nursery education at a local technical secondary school. Teachers at the welfare institution chose her school and major, and she didn’t have the slightest idea what to do with her life. Congenital cleft palate left a faint scar from surgery on her upper lip, along with deep-seated inferiority. She asked me millions of times: “Will children at kindergarten be scared to see me like this?” “Will I fail the interview for Teacher Qualification Certificate because of my looks?”
Appearance anxiety brought by public opinion is unavoidable. Praise in the form of comment is barely effective and cannot solve the problem once and for all.
During regular research meetings, we read in research that family support and peer relationships bring a positive influence on disadvantaged teenagers in establishing life targets. Based on the definitions of “family” and “peer” given in the papers and combining our prior system of “angel brother/sister,” we decided to recruit alumni or volunteers within EWB who have had similar experiences in order to make up a “backup group” as part of everyday support for the children. From daily trivial matters to career planning, the group will be there for them at every turn, ready to offer positive feedback.
We communicate via often-used social media platforms, creating a space of security, inclusiveness and dialogue with all sorts of team-building activities. Gradually, X started to share her confusion in the group. Regardless of how complicated and how late the questions were, the group always tried to respond in a timely manner. We hold the firm belief that we can be a source of strength for their bravery, helping them to confront the unknown on their road ahead.
Medical teachers studying medicine-related majors were on constant watch for children’s health. In 2021, X suffered frequent upset stomachs. Though local caretakers insisted they were due to unhealthy and irregular eating habits, her condition showed little improvement. After X consulted a medical teacher in the “backup” group, an initial diagnosis and advice on living habits were provided. Professional input was also offered to the caretakers, not to mention tackling other issues like costs. Eventually, X went to the hospital and took examinations. She has been much better since.
Three months into the “backup group,” X had clearer goals for her life. Her questions on study became more specific, and she had a deeper understanding in her internship. She not only passed exams but also gained a position after her internship was over. She made a bunch of friends at work, and our relationship grew closer. She would be the first one to send her greetings on holidays, and she would convey how much she missed us.
In the comics, Gintama, “Yorozuya” (House of 10,000 Businesses), helps people in need and asks nothing in return. The “backup group” is just like a Yorozuya in real life, acting as a constant source of courage and recharging from children’s gratitude and growth. The group will cultivate friends from all corners of the world, contributing to education equity.
Narrated by Tang Shuhan, co-manager of “Mentor of the Stars”
In 2021, 32 mentors and ten managers provided 34 students with over 500 quality sessions of the Mentor of the Stars program in art, science, law, finance, mental health, programming, and more.
In the same year, the Mentor of the Stars program entered into a strategic partnership with the Department of Fundraising to conduct a year-long program incubation at the Spring Foundation of UC Berkeley. With a customized strategy and a prioritized focus on incubation, the development of the program has been accelerated.
Thanks to the Spring Foundation and the Department of Fundraising, more than 30 mentors received financial support to reward the children’s growth and progress in the form of “little money bags.” Simultaneously, high-quality teaching resources from Hygiene Heros were introduced to keep the curriculum up-to-date, tailor the instruction to each student’s unique situation, and educate with entertainment. In this way, the ability of mentors to teach and accompany children have been systematically improved.
Dalian Social Welfare Institution, Tashan Loving Home in Ningde City, Fujian Province, and Ward Teaching Sites in Inner Mongolia, Shenzhen, Qingdao.
In the future, we hope to remain true to our original aspiration of the Mentor of Stars program and develop more teaching sites similar to welfare institutions, bringing long-term companionship to more vulnerable children with the warm power of mentors.
Lijun Wang, member of Mentor of the Stars program management team:
Our team has encountered many difficulties in the three years since the start. We were eager to do too much at first to know what we should focus on. Especially, we didn’t know how to help vulnerable children adjust moods to relieve negative impacts caused by family or illness.
We still stick to the intention, “Everything is for the lifelong development of children,” which is also a beacon every time we get lost in the fog. From the perspective of we mentors, children need companionship the most — someone to talk to and turn to in terms of school and life.
We believe that companionship is the most extended love, and this eternal love will last to irrigate the children’s tree of life. I’m so lucky to have met all our kids and intimates in the Mentor of Stars program, and I hope we can spend the coming years together!
Xixi Lu, member of Mentor of the Stars program management team:
“It’s all about the children” is always our goal to move forward, and everyone here is struggling with it. We are constantly reflecting and improving and try our best to offer our children better education and companionship. I hope I can help more kids in the future.
Mengyun Chen, member of Mentor of the Stars program management team:
Since setting sail, we have been considering how to accompany and help our children better. Our partners are working hard on different projects and fields, seeking more resources and professional support for our children. I believe the Mentors of the Stars project will keep conveying love and warmth to children as we continue improving and refining our institutional system and core values!