You are not going to believe this.. I was in the hotel restaurant last night and met a great group of people. They asked me to take a photo and when they heard my accent we all began to chat .. a German, 2 from the U.K., one from Mexico by way of India, one from San Fran and lastly one from FRAMINGHAM Mass!!! We all became instant friends. They work in cyber security, go figure. We had a nice conversation about the stigmatism/judgements sometimes felt by our friends in the States because we are here doing business with Russia. We all spoke about the generosity, hospitality and kindness of the people we have met in Russia. I loved the story they told that their
Russian office had a chin-up bar and they challenge one another to see who can do the most chin-ups. No chin-up bars here at Big Brother Big Sisters Moscow, but plenty of chocolate and Girl Power t-shirts. My new friends appreciated this humanitarian visit, and I look forward to creating global partnerships with Positive Technologies, Mother Caroline Academy and Big Brother Big Sisters Moscow. Steve, Alex and I commemorated the moment with a great selfie as we noticed it was snowing outside.
During day two at the Big Brother Big Sisters Moscow office we invited other NGO’s to participate in a session where I discussed MCA’s Mentor Program, with a lens on how we apply the methodologies. I enjoyed the session as we spent a lot of time as a group to re frame these concepts to be more practical for Russian programs.
While my office is set at a school and I have an easier time gaining access to the students and spend time getting to know the guardians, Big Brothers Big Sisters has a more difficult time. They serve about 200 mentees a majority of the mentees are teens that are orphans. There are about 14 orphanages in Moscow that host about 40 children up to age 18 in a city of approximately 12 million.
One concept I introduced to Case Managers was to work with the school that the mentee is enrolled. Knowing from field work and research, that this population experiences a substantial amount of trauma and often has a difficult time communicating with adults, they are less likely to inform others about the additional people in their life who are trying to make an impact. However, if the “guidance counselor” knew about this relationship he/she could prompt the mentee to reach out to their mentor if they were running into problems at school instead of the school counselor just writing them of as a troubled student with out much support.
I piloted a quick exercise on Cultural Competency with a focus on self-identity that Mass Mentoring Partnership trained me on last year. The exercise was well received. When I get back to the states will use this for mentors/mentees. In this moment I got really excited seeing the team value the sharing of knowledge. It made me really proud of MCA mentees and mentors as I had an entire deck of slides with photos.
Next I addressed the importance of practitioner self-care and the importance of taking a step back when a match doesn’t work out. Often we blame ourselves if the match is unsuccessful. I have been told on a few occasions, that I “can’t save the world” but I will go down trying!!
When I presented the concept of “a day of gratitude” for the mentors, where the mentees use “voice and choice” by creating the formal program and write a card for the mentor, they were struck that I didn’t ask the mentors to do the same thing. They shared the
Importance of a “symmetry of gratitude” and reminded me how much the relationship also means to the mentor.
Next, I introduced the portal of communication for our mentors to collaborate with one another via a closed Facebook group and they talked about ways they can work this into their program.
During lunch we talked about Russian music and I showed them the clip of Moscow City and the told me about the Viktor Tsoi, because I am still obsessed over the video I captured of the band covering Tsoi in back of the Moscow City landscape.
I bribed the ladies of BBBS to compete my surveys with Girl Power shirts and we did some photo shoots around the office. Took a lot on my camera , so I will update later. For most of the staff if was “pah-ka” for now but we will see one another again, I am certain.
For dinner Sasha nailed it! I ate Uzbek food for the first time and I enjoyed all of the fresh veggies. On top of that the place was just wild and sparkly- just my style. Off to bed hopefully at a reasonable time today.