I recall those days when I referred to someone as my mentor. I always thought Oga Uche was that someone because I admired him. No, don’t get it twisted yet. I admired his skills, his expertise, his dexterity, agility, energy and the zeal he put into his job from which he seemed to derive so much satisfaction. Having supervised my undergraduate thesis, a supervision that was never intended and never did bring us closer than we already were. Between us was that teacher-student relationship and I saw him like some sort of idol and respected him for his worth. I hoped to be like him, if not better. Better still, I hoped to emulate him. I wanted to. I intended to. But teaching is not a craft that one learns, nor a profession with some methodology. It is a calling, a talent that soothes and smooths. Little wonder teachers are the salt of the earth.
So did I define a mentor. Some sort of idol whom one looks up to, a role model, an example or a sample. Thanks to Birmingham City University. Not essentially for a new understanding of the role of a mentor. I could have learnt that on my own basically. I bet Google could be so kind to spell out the roles of a mentor. But thanks to BCU for providing mentoring opportunities for mentors and mentees. I remember my first days in a UK university. Still recovering from the shock of change in practically everything I could think about, adjusting to teaching methods, accent and DIY culture were bigger challenges. How lost I felt. And was hopelessly so for several months. And did it tell on my studies? Come find out! I do not give BCU the entire credit for a seamless blending in during the first year of my PhD studies. I give her the entire credit for what I know now about certain things. Ask me what!
One of my best experiences is the mentoring scheme. I do not regret applying to be a mentee. I love my mentor. She is neither an idol nor a mirror I look into and wish to be like or emulate. That isn’t what a mentor is anymore. With Khulod, mentorship has got a new interpretation. It is not one sided, but a win-win relationship, a journey through personal development where we both share and learn. Yes, mentors are meant to be more experienced, more knowledgeable, better exposed, perhaps older and wiser. With Khulod, friendship spiced it all up. Mentoring offers an image of a mentor on a higher ladder and the mentee holding up a hand to be taken up. Ours was as lovely as that cup of cappuccino – a relationship on the same level brainstorming to work out everything and anything.
Thanks UNN. Thanks BCU. Thanks ADM. Thanks Sarah and Jacqueline. Thank you Khulod. Besides my supervisors, you are the best things (people?) that ever happened to me in my first year at this great citadel of learning. Loving the experience so far.