When I was growing up in Dubai, my family couldn't afford a tutor, or prep schools, or many extra-curricular activities. I dreamed of being rich enough to have a "life coach" who would spur me to my best - somebody that could tell me the right thing to do in every situation so I could reach my full potential.(1) Barring that, I wanted to at least belong to an interest club of some kind like the Homebrew Computer Club.
I never got that mentor, and if such a club existed in Dubai, my parents didn't find it, but now that I'm back in Dubai as a young professional, I want to make sure that at least the first one can happen for other people.
Not having a mentor sucks.
Without a mentor, I had to learn everything on my own, and I didn't learn as much or as fast as I could have if I had a mentor crafting a learning process based on my needs and desires.
Now that I am in a position to mentor others, I get to find out if having a mentor can be all the things that I thought it could be when I as a kid. (1a)
The first person I mentored was a guitar student in Khartoum. I started out teaching guitar, but started to model more than just chords with two precocious students: Hiba, 9, and Luke, 13. The best thing that can happen is when you learn something new together, and that happened often with this pair because these kids were truly bright. We figured out guitar scales without a guide, using just our investigative powers: which strings would sound like which other strings when you pressed a certain fret: how to play the same tune using completely different strings. Then we found that miniature keyboard Hiba had in her house had a few bad notes - through our self-directed learning we knew enough to discover problems that we had never noticed before. The joy of those discoveries would stay with us for weeks.
With every mentee I have had since then we always make new discoveries, in new subjects. It never gets old.
(1) I needed somebody to help me experiment safely. I didn't know what acceptable social boundaries were, so I erred on the safe side and I didn't experiment. Erring on the safe side was good: it meant that I didn't develop as fast socially as I could have, but it meant that I didn't have the problems of going overboard and getting into situations that I wasn't prepared for. A mentor would have been better: a mentor could have helped me develop faster without the risk of derailing.
(1a) I want them to have a chance to grasp whatever they dream about. I can give kids today the chance to have a mentor to help them fulfill their own dreams like I always wanted but never had - that is a powerful motivator. I also want to mentor others while I am still close enough to my own childhood to remember what it felt like, and young and dynamic enough to build rapport easily.
And I want to make the most of my time to fulfill that dream before I get married and have kids of my own. I hope to get all my pent-up ambition out on mentees so that I don't create a pressure-cooker environment in my own home. :)