Being a Project K mentor is an exciting, challenging, varied and rewarding experience.
“One year ago I got the chance to be involved with Project K. I met my mentee Haley and over the 12 months we have had an incredible time. It challenged us both to do new things, go outside our comfort zones and share our very different lives.
“But that’s what made it such an enriching experience. It made me think about things in a very different way, from Haley’s point of view and vice versa.
“When you take the opportunity to get to know someone else (someone you probably wouldn’t have met otherwise), you can’t help but grow as a person.
“There are so many benefits to becoming a mentor but the biggest one for me was growth. Haley and I set goals and challenges together and had fun accomplishing them.
“Seeing the change in Haley and watching her graduate made me realize I had been part of something big – someone’s life. And if anyone has ever thought about doing something like this, I would say go for it. Project K really is life changing.” – Karlene
Chris took a low key approach when he began mentoring Mark.
He worked hard at not appearing to be another parent, but was someone who listened, was empathetic to the woes of being 14 and then gently steered Mark towards his ambitions.
“I think the most important thing mentors bring to the relationship is neutrality. They are neither parent nor guardian but an adult who listens, guides and is non-judgmental,” Chris says.
Chris says working on goal setting and planning scenarios together were opportunities he never had as a teenager. He was impressed with the way Mark enthusiastically took up the opportunity and his ongoing commitment.
“Mark was focused, knew what he wanted and had a respect for others. Afterwards, he displayed more confidence and his change in attitude was evident; so much so, that he was subsequently nominated for prefect.”
The programme graduation was a high point for students and mentors alike.
“To see the changes in all of them, and to hear them tell their stories certainly gave all of us a great feeling of satisfaction and a sense of having done something really good for other people. It was truly a feeling that is hard to describe. The closest description is ‘warm fuzzies’.
“The ultimate effect a mentor has on his/her mentee may not be evident for years to come but I’m sure that a good relationship that has had a positive impact on a young person’s life will be a highlight long remembered.” - Chris
Kim, who wrote the following, fulfils an early Project K dream that the programme would come full-circle: a former Project K student becomes a mentor.
“Project K is like a community once you’re a part of it you just can’t walk away. When I was a student I was in one of the first groups in Dunedin to be a part of Project K – I was in my fourth form year at high school and through Project K was given more opportunities than I can ever imagine, including traveling to Antarctica.
“My mentor helped me to achieve all my goals - she was amazing she was encouraging, enthusiastic, interested in me and we had a lot in common.
“She is one of those inspiring people you remember for a life time and think of when you’re just about to give something up and it makes you keep trying, just like Graeme (Dingle) and Jo-anne (Wilkinson).
“My Project K mentor was a great role model for me and because of this, I promised her that I too would become a mentor and that I would be great at it! I hope that my student agrees that I am. She graduated from Project K at the end of 2006. My Project K student achieved all of her goals and will go far – she has an amazing enthusiasm for life and can really make your day.
“Project K helped me develop a great sense of self-awareness and understanding of the impact I have on those around me – this has helped me greatly in my role as mentor – I know to keep positive but to be honest. It also helped as I knew what my student had been through on her three weeks away and we would often compare stories and feelings that came with each part of the Project K journey.” - Kim