Mentoring Across Generations: Bridging the Gap for Intergenerational Learning

Mentoring typically involves pairing individuals from different generations to improve social and academic skills. But mentoring the next generation isn’t only about imparting knowledge from the older mentor to the younger mentee. Ideally, these should be reciprocal relationships where both individuals learn from each other. These intergenerational connections can forge a deeper sense of empathy that builds community. Read on to learn how! 

Leverage the Mentor’s Experiences

Age differences are inherent in intergenerational learning. After all, intergenerational learning brings together individuals from generations that may span decades. 

While this can lead to challenges in forming connections, it also means the older individual brings experience to the table. They will have wisdom amassed from decades of work in a particular field and personal development. In a mentoring relationship where the mentee comes from a disadvantaged background, this experience is invaluable. 

Mentees may lack the foresight to know that their current situation, which may be studded with hurdles, can improve. It may take goal setting or words of encouragement. A mentor who has faced personal setbacks can use their history to inspire their mentee. 

Offer Mutual Learning Opportunities

A unique benefit of intergenerational learning is the potential for shared learning experiences. In other words, the mentee is not the only one to benefit from the relationship. Mentors who commit to the relationship are poised to gain confidence and feel rewarded for seeing their guidance at work in a young person. For older adults, intentional mentoring also can bring companionship. And it can ease feelings of loneliness.

Mentees may gain a self-esteem boost from working with an adult several decades older than them. Hearing personal stories from an older mentee can let a mentee know that they are not alone in their insecurities. And these interactions may be the necessary nudge for a mentee to carve out a pathway toward a brighter future. 

The mentorship connections at OhanaHC offer all participants the potential for personal enrichment. During the course of their ten years in the program, mentees work with several adult mentors from the community. This ensures that our teenage participants encounter multiple perspectives from mentors representing different generations 

Improve Understanding When Mentoring the Next Generation

Intergenerational learning can be an effective tool to build understanding. It is easy for a younger generation to assume that an older generation is out of touch. In the same fashion, an older generation may be skeptical of new ways of doing things. Mentorship pairings across generations can help shatter these assumptions. As a result, these pairings can bring about a shared sense of respect for the unique gifts that each generation offers. Further, intergenerational mentoring can push back again ageism and other stereotypes.

At OhanaHC, we provide opportunities for mentees to create meaningful connections with mentors and community members from all backgrounds. If you want to pursue mentorship, we will help you step into the right role. Please fill out the contact form on our website or email us at info@ohanahc.org to learn more!

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