POLARIS: MENTORING WORKSHOPS FOR HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS
In achieving economic and social mobility, exposure to opportunities matter. A couple of friends and I decided to organize a series of workshops that exposes high school students to possibilities in and prepares them to become leaders of the future. For the workshops, we invited leaders and individuals trailing the blaze in the fields of Career Advancement, Leadership, Social Good, and Personal Branding,
Public high school students in semi-rural areas are at a disadvantage in terms of exposure to opportunities and skill and personal development. This was a topic that often emerged in conversations with high school friends. Upon entering college and meeting students from different parts of the country, we realized that there is a huge gap in terms of skills and mindsets of students who come from public and private high schools in both urban and rural areas.
We noticed how private HS students had been exposed to opportunities such as leadership camps or exchange programs that helped them develop a global mindset, build their character, and prepare them to become leaders. However, students from public HS did not have as much opportunities to refer to.
This was what inspired me and a few friends to conduct workshops for HS students. We named the team Polaris, commonly known as The North Star, to signify how the initiative serves as a compass to students’ future.
In planning the workshops, we started by evaluating the needs of these students as well as our needs when we were around that age. We came with 4 sessions – Career Advancement, Leadership, Social Good, and Personal Branding – and ran these in 4 Saturdays.
Career Advancement – for students to understand their interests and the different career options they can take as they prepare for college exams
Leadership – for students to understand the qualities of a good leader
Social Good – for students to be exposed to the country’s pressing issues and be inspired to take action to address them
Personal Branding – for students to understand who they are and the skills and interests that they have
We invited guests and individuals from our personal networks to speak and share their experience in these four areas. Aside from this initiative serving as a compass for growth, we also found it essential for students to connect with and meet people and have role models to look up to.
We also designed the workshops to be a mix of individual and team activities. We created games that allowed them to meet and interact with fellow participants.
To synthesize their learnings from the past sessions, we divided students into groups and gave them a challenge that they need to present on the day of the last session. These challenges involve pressing issues in their community/country. Students presented these on the last session with some of our guest speakers acting as judges.
Before the end of the last session, we asked students to reflect on their learnings and evaluate the overall initiative so we can improve workshops we’ll conduct in the future.