This January the VSP said farewell to two excellent interns, Eve Gutman and Mitch Stent. Eve interned with VSP for an entire year, starting in January 2016 and Mitch joined the team officially in July as an intern, but volunteered with us during his semester studying abroad here in Valparaíso starting in March 2016.
In the office Eve and Mitch both worked as part of our development team. Eve mainly coordinated fundraising events including our events in New York, Boston and Portland 2016. Mitch worked as a support in our grant writing team, and wrote several grants in which gave a significant contribution to the organization. The two also focused on obtaining individual and corporate donations.
Eve and Mitch participated in all aspects of programming, running english classes and surf sessions and being constant mentors to our students. We had Mitch and Eve answer a few questions to reflect on their experience with VSP.
1. What was your favorite part about working with VSP?
My favorite part of working with VSP was building relationships with each of our students. I found it especially gratifying to win the trust of certain students who were distant at first and misbehaved with me. Now, I can play with those kids and talk to them about their lives, and that feels all the more incredible knowing how long it took for them to open up to and respect me.
2. What was the most challenging part about your work with VSP?
The most challenging part of working with VSP was developing effective classroom management techniques. Our goal is to get through to students who misbehave in a positive and supportive manner, and that takes a lot of skill and finesse. I was always working on my ability to be effective and serious while also being fun and affectionate.
3. Has your idea of mentorship changed after working for a year as a mentor?
I now see that, before my year with VSP, I didn't really know what mentorship was. I vaguely thought it was something like friendship, but I hadn't really thought it through. Working with VSP forced me to question what the word meant and how I could live up to the title. One thing I learned is that being a mentor isn't always being a friend -- sometimes you have to be straight with someone and tell them something they don't necessarily want to hear but that you know will help them become a better person.
4. What are your plans for the future?
I plan to stay in Valparaíso, and continue to enjoy the sea, the hills, and the local character. I hope to land a job teaching English, maybe with businesspeople or preschoolers or both! No matter what I end up doing, I'm going to keep volunteering with VSP and spending time with our students at the beach and in the English classroom.