"HIS EYES LIT UP, AND THEY STAYED LIT UP FOR THE ENTIRE SHOW."
Leshek describes the experience of taking Dovydas to his very first theater show. “I took him because I could tell he was excited when I asked if he wanted to go.” But he had no idea the impact it would have. “Dovydas was so impressed by the show that he started a drama club at his school. Now he puts on theater productions of his own!”
Leshek, a bank manager, and Dovydas, a local teenager, met through Mentor Lithuania, an organization that provides emotionally intelligent role models for teenagers. The hope is to foster the dreams and possibilities of the local children through relationships– just like Dovydas’ passion for theater was nurtured by Leshek.
Providing coaching for the mentors in Mentor Lithuania is the latest way in which Nomeda Maraziene, CEO of Leadership Experts Group, hopes to change the outlook for emotional intelligence in Lithuania, one person at a time.
SEEING THROUGH A LENS OF POSSIBILITY:
Mentorship Program Connects
Emotionally Intelligent Role Models with Teenagers
“WE ARE TACKLING TWO UNIQUE CHALLENGES AT THE SAME TIME,”
says Nomeda. “To help teenagers at a challenging time in their lives, which is a universal phenomenon, and to improve emotional intelligence in Lithuania, which is unique to this place.” Let’s start with taking a look at the situation in Lithuania:
LITHUANIA– THE LEAST EMOTIONALLY INTELLIGENT COUNTRY IN EUROPE?
Nomeda Marazienė is the CEO of Lyderystės Ekspertų grupė (Leadership Experts Group), an EQ consulting firm and Six Seconds Preferred Partner. A medical doctor and psychologist by trade, Nomeda found her true passion in teaching the skills of emotional intelligence, in part because of the fact that these skills are sorely lacking in her home country.
“All of us are responsible for the emotional culture we create in our country. It’s a shared responsibility to improve it.” Since she left the pharmaceutical industry to teach emotional intelligence full time, she is doing everything she can to change the emotional culture in Lithuania, especially for the younger generation.
A few years ago, Nomeda’s consulting firm partnered with Barclays Group Unlimited to help improve the emotional culture at a foster care center in Didziasalis, a small town on the border with Belarus. In one year, Nomeda and her group witnessed an amazing transformation in the emotional culture of the foster care center. You can read more about that project here.
Her most recent project is supporting this mentorship program run by Mentor Lithuania that connects young professionals and teenagers in the capital, Vilnius. As in the rest of the world, teenagers are more stressed and lonely than ever before, and LEG provides emotional intelligence training so that the mentors feel prepared to be role models for them and
“EMPOWER, INSPIRE, AND MOTIVATE THESE YOUNG PEOPLE.”
This is exactly what happened with Leshek and Dovydas, says Nomeda: “The mentor brought this wider perspective and created the context, and in concert with the teenager, helped him find his own way. And this is the beautiful part of the program.”
As I talked to other mentors, I realized this experience has been shared by many mentors and mentees in the program.
For example, check out this story of Mindaugas and Dimitrijus bonding over sports, and then exploring together Dimitrijus’ dream of becoming a fire fighter.
“AT FIRST, THINGS FELT AWKWARD”
says Mindaugas, an SEB bank manager in his 30s who started meeting with his mentee, Dimitrijus, about 9 months ago. Even though things felt awkward at first, they found common ground before long through their love of sports. They went running, cycling, and played football. They even competed in a 5k race together.
This helped lay the foundation of their friendship, and they branched out from there.
Dimitrijus came over to Mindaugas’ house to cook dinner and came to see where he worked. They started talking about what he wanted to do for work one day, and that led them to an open house at a fire station. They had a blast, learning about what you need to do to become a firefighter and even participating in fire fighting drills.
THEN, THEY MADE A LIST OF WHAT HE COULD NOW, AND IN THE YEARS AHEAD, TO MAKE HIS DREAM OF BECOMING A FIREFIGHTER COME TRUE.
“I LOVE THE TRAININGS BECAUSE THE MENTORS REALLY WALK AWAY WITH THE TOOLS TO MAKE POSITIVE CHANGE. FIRST, THEY POSITIVELY CHANGE THEMSELVES. THEN, THEY PROVIDE THE SPACE AND TOOLS FOR THEIR MENTEES TO MAKE POSITIVE CHANGES WITHIN THEMSELVES.”
The prospective mentors all complete a 16-hour training course, which includes taking the SEI, Six Seconds’ emotional intelligence assessment, and completing a group workshop on EQ. This crash course in being smarter with feelings helps them both personally and, hopefully, in their work as mentors. “I love the trainings because the mentors really walk away with the tools to make positive change. First, they positively change themselves. Then, they provide the space and tools for their mentees to make positive change within themselves,”says Nomeda, who leads these emotional intelligence workshops.
The workshop teaches emotional intelligence skills like increasing empathy, pursuing noble goals, and navigating emotions – and these skills help the mentors develop strong friendships with their mentees at a time in their life when they crave connection.
WHAT DO TEENAGERS NEED?
Lina originally signed up to a mentor because she had been bullied at school and wanted to help, to share how she overcame those struggles. And she got a chance to do exactly that. Throughout the year they worked together, Lina helped Olga make progress with her brother, who was bullying her, and start to be more engaged in her academic work. But by the end of the program, she realized that she had gotten something amazing and unexpected: “I really got a friend. Not just a mentee, a young girl who needed help, but a real equal and a true friend.”
AND OLGA GOT NOT ONLY A FRIEND– BUT AN EMOTIONALLY INTELLIGENT ROLE MODEL.
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