Ange (she/her), Bradley University, spent her semester mentoring local gymnasium students to help them reach personal and academic goals. Using lessons from the Psychology of Performance: Power of the Mind course, DIS students paired with local students to work toward improving things such as procrastination and performance anxiety. The Power of the Mind program exists within a larger partnership between DIS and JENSEN — DIS students also volunteer to tutor in everything from calculus to English language courses. Read on to learn more about Ange’s experience with the program and the lessons and friendships gained along the way.
My time mentoring at JENSEN
As a student mentor, my role is to apply mental skills and strategies towards individual goals of three students at a gymnasium (equivalent to high school) in Stockholm. I collaborate with other DIS mentors to research and implement specific concepts within performance psychology, deepening our understanding through real-life applications. Whether it be academic or personal, it’s up to the mentees to decide on a specific goal, and it’s up to us mentors to provide support and resources to achieve it. My group consists of three DIS students and three JENSEN students, and our focus is on improving self-discipline, self-efficacy, and self-confidence.
Course Lessons in Action
Our course, Psychology of Performance: Power of the Mind, has quite the powerful title, if you ask me, but I think it’s very fitting. During midterms week, my classmates and I presented our mentees’ desired goals and our proposed plans; in return, our instructor provided us with relevant in-class teachings and readings. Having heard the goals of my own mentees and of my classmates, I find myself more interested in topics I otherwise may not have been. I’m really appreciative of our teacher, as she does a remarkable job of building us up and instilling confidence and preparedness within ourselves.
For each goal, we prepared and developed a solution and a mental skill based on what we’ve been learning in the classroom. As a psychology major and a soon-to-be college graduate, the unique mentorship aspect of this course has been a wonderful way of improving confidence in my own abilities, and is a really fun cultural exchange as well.
A Sweet Reunion
Our initial meeting was unexpectedly hilarious. Surrounded by scattered desks in the middle of an empty classroom, we chatted about who we all were and where we came from. Only about ten minutes in did I cartoonishly blink at one of the girls, until loudly exclaiming, “OH MY GOODNESS, WE’VE MET BEFORE!” In an instant, she and I were rapid-fire talking excitedly in out-of-context phrases that were only understood by the two of us, much to the confusion of everyone around us. Finally, one of the girls waved her arms back and forth to ask, “What, have you guys had a sleepover or something?? HOW do you know each other so well??” I could hardly breathe from laughing, but I managed to blurt out, “The ice cream social!!”
In the beginning of the semester, DIS hosted an ice cream social as a cultural exchange with a nearby gymnasium. I was on the fence about going, but I pushed my anxiety aside and showed up solo (the free ice cream was a plus, too). Unexpectedly, I got swept up in conversation until after the event ended, and really connected with these girls I thought I would never see again. Lo and behold, we’re face-to-face just weeks later!
Breaking the Ice with Scented Markers
Our mentees are in the Economics and Business program at JENSEN gymnasium. The two I met at the ice cream social are cousins, and the third moved to Sweden from Ukraine a few years ago. Establishing rapport and finding connections early on was important to us, but the looks of incredulousness and confusion during our inside jokes and uncontrollable laughter were quite the ice breaker — that, and having coincidentally brought a special set of markers with me.
As we dove into explaining SMART goals (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely), I remembered I had thrown my scented markers in my backpack that morning! Before I could even set them down on the desk, I was interrupted by giddy excitement around me that was so tangible I felt it too. Everyone was dead-set on smelling every marker; I couldn’t help but laugh to see how happy we all were to be passing the markers around and declaring favorite scents with one another. Decorating the goal sheet was a great incentive, and we had a fun sharing session of goals and artwork.
Out of us DIS students, our goals were getting stronger at the gym, eating more fruit, and improving public speaking confidence. Out of our mentees, one desired to read more books, one wished to reduce phone usage, and another wanted to build confidence in her interactions with others.
I’m grateful for all the shared listening and learning together. It’s been such a joy meeting with the JENSEN students each time, and having such a great rapport also makes us DIS students so happy and proud to see success in their goals.
It’s been an engaging and enriching cultural exchange between the six of us; we all come from such different backgrounds, and I’m grateful for all the shared listening and learning together. It’s been such a joy meeting with the JENSEN students each time, and having such a great rapport also makes us DIS students so happy and proud to see success in their goals. One thing I did not expect from this mentorship opportunity was to have so many laughs, and the best kind, too: the contagious deep-belly laughs that resonate around the room and leave you wiping away tears.
Learn more about connecting with locals at DIS