Thursday, December 10, 2009

Mentors and Flashbacks of my Childhood

I am applying to a volunteer program in my community that is similar to the "Big Brother, Big Sister" program. We are matched up with a youth and we spend three hours together once a week for an entire year.

There are a few reasons I have decided to do this.

1) Having worked for a year and half, I have a better feel for my job, and feel that this is something that I can and want to work into my schedule.

2) I had a lot of good mentors growing up, and they have set me on the path that has brought me to where I am today.

3) I think that everyone can use a good mentor.

4) Kids are bombarded with so many different messages from media every day, that its good to have someone who is real, and ready to share with them their experiences.

5) I truly believe that education is the best gift you can give to yourself. It opens up opportunities that are endless. I want to encourage this thought to the future of tomorrow.

6) I already am a real big sister. I have two little sisters, and since they are all grown up, I can now have another mentee (aka victim).

As a kid, my mentors growing up are my parents and my teachers. For a very long time, I always felt like the awkward kid in class, but I remember my teachers always saw the potential in me.

Even though I was born in Toronto, my family spoke Cantonese at home, and I hardly knew any English when I started kindergarten. I was enrolled in English as a Second Language (ESL) programs until I was in grade 3. I remember kids in my class would make fun of me and call me names like "ching chong."

My mom was always very strict with my school work, and would make sure that my sisters and I were on top of our homework. She would assign additional homework, since she didn't think that we got enough from school. I quickly became the "brainer" in my class, and was also teased and made fun of. "Brainiac" or "smarty pants."

I wore glasses and had bad acne from grade 7 to grade 10, I can assure you that I felt very unattractive for what felt like forever. I'm sure that no boy ever liked me because of this, and I was always afraid to admit (except to my close group of friends) which boy I liked, for fear of the boy reacting with "Ewwwww. Des likes me!"

For anyone who has ever suffered from acne, it's a terrible thing. And even though, it looks bad on the outside, it feels worse on the inside. I had very low self esteem, and I remember wanting to just sleep until it went away. I couldn't even imagine myself without it. Would I finally be pretty without acne?

I started seeing a dermatologist in grade 10, and eventually my acne went away. I started to feel a bit better about how I looked, but I was still very shy and reserved. I was sure that no boy would still like me. I always convinced myself that I would concentrate on school first, and everything else second.

I had great high school teachers whom I still think of today for helping me get where I am today.

Ms. D - She was my teacher for grade 11 and Calculus. She was a wonderful teacher who really cared about her students. She encourages myself and other young women to take control of our financial future, and start saving and investing in our future. I wish that I had listened to her in grade 12, but I guess it's never too lateputting those thoughts to actions.

Ms. C - It was in her class that I learned to combine class lectures with text books stuff. I also learned to ask for help when I needed it. A lot of kids in my class didn't like her because she was tough, and gave her a hard time. Bullying could happen to anyone and it is never acceptable.

Mr. S - He used to be a student at my high school and was a complete genius. He went off to university on a full scholarship, and became a published researcher during his graduate studies. He decided that this wasn't the thing for him, and pursued a teaching degree and started doing what he loved - teaching high school physics. He would make up crazy, entertaining test questions involving Gingerbreadman and Secret Agent 001 (himself), and do fun projects in class.

In high school, I worked part time on weekends at McDonald's and saved every penny towards college tuition. I also tutored several nights a week for classmates, younger students, etc, and pu that money towards my college tuition fund. My parents are poor, and I was scared shitless that I wouldn't have enough money to go to school, and have to work my entire life at a dead end job.

After working for 3 summers, all my part time work combined, I saved about $14,000. Enough to cover me for 1 year! I applied to an engineering school with a Co-op program which allowed me to alternate 4 months of school with 4 months of work after my first year. My work terms were also a great opportunity to sample various civil engineer fields.

College was a great time for me. It wasn't just the schooling, but meeting so many new people who are also like me. They might have been the "nerds" in their class, and been teased the same way I was for being "smart" or wearing glasses. The classes were definitely more challenging, and I was learning all the math and physics I could possible want (my 2 favourite subjects in high school!).

I am very lucky to have been touched by so many mentors. I hope that through my volunteer work, I can be a good mentor to a little girl with some big dreams. And share with her some of my experiences and help her reach her dreams.


SS4BC said...

Wow, I can't wait to hear how this goes.

Every time I drive by Big Brothers/Big Sisters I want to volunteer. But I think of reasons why not.

I hope you keep up posted on how this goes because I'm REALLY curious about the program!

Des said...


I definitely am looking forward to doing this program. It is a big time commitment and that's why I held off for more than a year before joining.

I think that you would be a great mentor from what I know of you from your blog. I will keep this blog update and then you can judge if it's something that you want to commit to.