Looking for inspiration?  A couple of our mentors share their experiences and what they have gained through participation in Portlandia’s mentoring programs.

I find collaboration is key to my life journey. I’ve heard we are the average of the five people we spend the most time with. Therefore, I am choosey about who those five people are. I can’t demonstrate what I don’t understand so having a mentor to guide me on my journey is very important to my growth. Also, I find I don’t really understand something until I use it and pass it along. The dynamic of mentoring and being mentored to me is full circle growth.

 Networking is a way for me to meet new people I’d like to get to know. I never know if I will be the mentor or the mentee when beginning a new friendship. However, in observing my relationships I, watch how I move between being a mentor and a mentee and I love the dance that is ever evolving! I am always searching for the next five people who will help me advance my understanding and add richness to my journey through life.

I don’t know about you, but when I think I know something as opposed to doing something I find they can be two very different things. If I think about learning as my left foot and doing as my right foot and only use one foot, I go in circles. It takes alternating learning and doing to move forward. How are you doing with your life journey moving forward? How would being a mentor and/or a mentee help you?

-- Colleen Bourassa, Mentor

 I have had the honor of being a mentor for four months and I can’t believe how much both of us have grown in such a short time. My mentee, Valerie, is sweet, kind, and very smart. She fell on some hard times over the past few years and is looking to attain some life goals that have so far been unattainable.  Among her dreams are seeing her family in England and getting a full time job in a career that she will enjoy.

When I first met Valerie, she was shy, insecure, and worried that I wouldn’t like her. I, in turn, thought she was a wonderful person and wanted to learn about her as much as I could so I could figure out what I could to do help her.  She told me what she was looking to do with herself, and then gave me information about her personal life. I realized that the most important thing I could do was to listen and be a friend.

Since that first meeting, we’ve worked to get back some of her self esteem.  She’s reached out to family members and renewed relationships, and introduced some basic meditation into her life when she gets upset.  She’s gone out of her comfort zone and attended job fairs, and worked hard to reach higher for herself.

What she has given me is the chance to connect with an amazing woman who has a wealth of potential that I can help realize through encouragement.  She’s also given me a friendship that I was not expecting, and that is a gift I can’t thank her enough for.

I’m really grateful that I have had the opportunity to get to know Valerie. I’m looking forward to our mutual growth as we continue our relationship.

-- Erica Risberg, Mentor