Best Practice: “Mentoring – Eagerly Awaited Picnics”

After all previous steps, the mentoring could finally take place. From GFBM gGmbH’s side we can say that many TCN were already looking forward to this step and getting to know the mentors. The mentoring should now bring TCNs and mentors together, either in individual or group mentoring. During the meetings it was the task to find out together which expectations the respective couples have of each other and how they want to organize the meetings in the context of the Mingle-project.

We also made the mentoring group compositions smaller in the beginning, the first groups consisted of 5 locals and 5 TCNs and followed the individual mentoring. The participation was than previously forecasted. We expect the public view on the COVID-19-Situation to be the cause here. Not all mentors who were interested in the beginning were available anymore, so we had to change plans and could only give out invitations shortly before the events.

Even with the smaller number of mentors, we still found interested locals who were ready to mentor small groups with up to 5 TCNs. They also found advantages in group mentoring. Since we started mentoring in early summer, we were often able to use the outside locations like public parks for our meetings. Every couple had enough time and space to get to know each other. A matching took place beforehand, as all participants filled out questionnaires in the previous Mingle Experiences and we managed to get suitable partner-constellations.

We transformed the get-togethers into picnics to give the event a recreational characteristic. This strengthened the general motivation to attend the events and enhanced participation greatly.

Aim of the best practice:

The goal of the mentoring sessions is to connect the participants in a way that is mutually beneficial. The TCN should benefit from a local person and receive support in topics such as language acquisition, help in bureaucratic processes, document filings, planning and spending leisure time together, etc…

The mentee should have a local contact person who will accompany him or her for a long time in the best case and ideally, the constellation might even lead to long-term friendships. For the mentor, the benefits include the exchange of knowledge and social service. 

Objectives of the best practice:

The objective of mentoring is the core of the MINGLE idea, namely, to enable TCN to actively participate in social life. This is exactly what mentoring offers an ideal opportunity. It is often the case that TCNs stay among themselves. They attend language courses, but the right deeper contact with the locals is missing. With a person like the mentor, the mentees have a reliable partner who has previously been matched according to areas of interest.

GFBM gGmbH: Coordinator Sonja Biering Antonia Restemeier

Min: 61 TCN for now, further meetings are planned for September 2020

Max:TCN 100 +

The Mingling Experiences already gave us a realistic picture of how the mentoring process will work in a practical environment. In the Experiences we could already work out the expectations of TCN and potential mentors and define what it means for both sides to participate in the mentoring.

For the mentors we hold a webinar to prepare them for their role as mentors. Our trainers have compiled a presentation, which showed the tasks of a mentor and what the limits of mentoring are. These preparatory online seminars were very important to show the mentors once again what their task could be and to define for themselves whether and to what extent they can and want to fulfill this task.

The TCNs were also informed in advance about what it means to have a mentor, but that he or she is not available for all needs, but that you should take the opportunity to get in contact with a local person and get support. The constellations, whether individual or group mentoring, were able to determine what the individual goals are even at the first and second meeting. As proof that the pairings meet, we get the signature lists and the the documentation on what was done together and when.

For the acquisition of mentors, we mainly used contacts of Metropolis.Net but we were also able to attract our own mentors. The TCNs are all students of GFBM gGmbH who learn in different courses and also some who have been involved in the project from the beginning and have now finally received a mentor. In addition, the TCNs presented further candidates and interested parties from their circle of acquaintances who were also included in the project.

This is a very good sign, because it shows that we achieved a positive experience for participants resulting in word-to-mouth-marketing. So far, almost all meetings in parks have taken place as a picnic, which has been of benefit to us, as the implementation of ongoing COVID-19 restrictions were loosened up.

In other cases, we could use the premises of the GFBM. Since the meetings usually take place in the evening, we can provide rooms which adhere the general distance regulations. Additionally, we also supply food and drinks to create a good atmosphere, so participants want to spend more time on-site to get to know eachother and plan the mentoring.

The strengths are clearly the exchange and the joy of the participants to finally have someone local to whom they can turn if there is something and if there is only one contact person at all. For many TCNs, the Mingle project presents a serious opportunity to come and stay in contact with locals, as they mostly live in homes and only have contact with the home staff. Someone who is really interested in them and willing to accompany them was missing up until this point.

The only weak point in actual mentoring is that COVID-19 regulations shifted public/social interactions between people in the city resulting in an unexpected rise in cancellations. We had to drastically change our planning concerning pair formation a lot because some people simply changed their minds, some potential mentors have jumped off or some TCNs could not be reached anymore, who would have previously liked to take part in mentoring. 

With our current participants at our disposal, the mentoring process works wonderfully and all TCNs aswell as mentors are so far satisfied. We are looking forward to further reports of experiences and are happy about every constellation that shows that people of two cultures have really come together.

The TCNs are very interested in mentoring. There are always new enquiries from other students in GFBM gGmbH’s courses as to whether they can also participate in Mingle-mentoring. There is great interest in meeting a mentor and the participants have understood the process. The feedback from constellations that already do the mentoring is also very good. Some meet only for conversation, others do homework together, others accompany to the doctor or write applications. In any case, the mentoring is a success for everyone involved.

None. Participant-to-Mentor-Pair-Conversion worked well and is evaluated positively.