Through our 3 years of close interaction with young girls at UPNicaragua, we have learnt that one of the biggest needs in the lives of our students is connection. Mentoring is a powerful model to achieve meaningful connection and even establish long-term relationships with people in the community whom we normally do not have access to.
Last March 10th, we had the opportunity to bring together 75 participants into the Vital Voices Mentoring Walk-Granada, this walk, led by women from Vital Voices Global Leadership Network, took place in over 130 cities across the globe: in Granada, 30 girls between 10-18 years old who were mentored by 30 adult women who come from diverse parts of society: teachers, artists, entrepreneurs, mothers, yogis, fundraising specialists, activists. We also welcomed 15 collaborators between guest speakers, professional photographers, wellness specialists, musicians and organizers. Though diverse, this group of participants had 1 quality in common-- a great disposition for serving the community for the common good.
During the 5-hour event participants had the opportunity to reflect, hear different perspectives on personal and professional life, inspire and be inspired by others. We began the morning by bringing in mindfulness through a meditation and yoga session with Fabiola Serrano, a local yogi who specializes in prenatal yoga.
We continued with an enriching panel in which Mercedes Gonzalez (Coach & Founder of El Relajo), Maria Isabel Cantón (Founder of Mental Health blog, Rompiendo La Etiqueta) and Berta Valle (Executive Director of Fundación Coen) shared their driving forces, personal & professional experiences, challenges, milestones as well as dreams and future goals.
After pairing mentors and mentees and sharing the mentorship model, we moved to the iconic pedestrian street of the beautiful city of Granada, matched couples started getting to know each other as we all walked to the Cocibolca lakefront where we worked in pairs on the life roadmaps of our mentees. Some of the key elements we emphasized on for this mentor/mentee experience were awareness, respect, confidentiality, intentional listening and a no-judgement approach to the exchanged information.
We ended our walk at the UPNicaragua Center where we closed the event with the participation of men from the local community--tourism entrepreneur, Damien Hopkins spoke about the importance of women's contribution to society and the relevance of achieving equal access to opportunities, safety and well-being for everyone. We closed the event with a toast and a moving concert by two talented, young Nicaraguan violinists.
The event was an overwhelming success, we felt the power of community, we experienced meaningful connection with people we didn’t know before and were able to serve and get proximate to the successes, happy and painful moments of some of the participants, enriching in this way our minds and spirits.
This is the first mentoring walk of many other to come, our first event involved a conservative number of participants as this was a new experience for us, we look forward to growing our reach and to inviting more participants to join us in the future.