As with every other aspect of our lives, the Covid-19 has had a significant impact on the SIE Mentoring Team and its plans. As no travel nor face to face meetings have been possible, we decided to invite the Mentoring Coordinators of all the unions and single clubs to a Mentoring webinar and were happy to see that twenty-two active and engaged ladies joined our session. Three presentations were provided: the unions of Romania and Italy and the single club from Dubai were invited to share their stories.
Elena Savu, the Mentoring coordinator in Romania, presented the current Mentoring Pilot program – the first ever done in her country! The program in Romania was launched in January 2020, based on the idea of the SIE Mentoring team. We wanted to start from zero and follow the progress in one Union step-by-step so that this experience could then be turned into a blueprint and shared with all the members of SIE, to help everybody in starting their own programs. The program of Romania is now in full speed, the 12 mentoring tandems are meeting regularly, followed up and supported by the Mentoring coordinator Elena. Once the pilot is complete, the Union of Romania has the intention to continue and develop a truly local Soroptimist Mentoring Programme.
In the presentation SI Gulf Dubai Club, Linda Merieau shared a single club perspective to Mentoring. Linda emphasized that even though their club is small, it was possible but ambitious to run a mentoring program with 8-12 tandems each time. The aim of the program was to help young women to navigate the landscape in their first job, to learn how to get a better work-life balance and to gain knowledge about their leadership skills or practice their management skills. Linda pointed out the importance of regular check-ins with the tandems as sometimes, things do not work out. If the chemistry between the mentor and the mentee does not work, it may make sense to redo the matching (something we should not hesitate doing). The final point of Linda was that Mentoring is very possible for a single club, too!
The third presentation was helped by SI Italy, Maria Luisa Frosio and Serenella Panaro. The programme of the Union in Italy was commenced by sending a call for mentors to all the clubs, and mentees were sourced from a specific group of young ladies called soroptimist Net Lead (young soroptimists under the age of 35). Due to Covid-19, the mode was changed from face to face to remote and the benefit turned out to be that a lot more participants were able to enrol (thanks to faster and lower-cost access with no travel). The key learnings of SI Italy so far have been that launching a mentoring program in this rather challenging environment with no travel and restrictions on meetings has strengthened them in learning, resilience and friendship. The mentors have a strong will to serve – and as the program has only started, the sisters in Italy promised to tell us more about it later!