by Abbas Dadla, IIT Bombay
In my mind, the purpose and effectiveness of Avanti Fellows revolves around the mentor- mentee (fellow) interaction.
We’ve grown up habituated to interacting and benefiting from elders, be it personal or professional lives. However, our fellows have seldom had this opportunity, yet they very well know its value. It is difficult for them, nonetheless, to open up, and the mentor-fellow bond takes time and effort to build.
For me, a novel yet simple solution came up in the form of weekly doubt solving interactive sessions, where the mentor simply devotes his time, and the fellows shoot away.
Most of our current fellows are in the 12th std, and benefit immensely from the doubts solving sessions, specially the ones with inhibitions to approach professors. But is this the role of a mentor?
If it helps solve that numerical question only, perhaps not. If it starts a process by which the fellow looks upto you for gradually bigger academic doubts, and ensures that the fellow actually has a “go to” person, then yes.
It shows them that you care, and it works wonders in other aspects too. For instance, I insist on communication in English, and I help build their overall confidence too. The other day, I asked Vishal (a fellow) to come up to the board and explain a solution to the rest, and I find him imitating my style of explanation!