The SBL growth model envisions students going from mentee to volunteer to mentor. For Japjit Singh his journey had a gap. In the summer of 2009, Japjit Singh was a mentee in our summer program. As the school year came around, he retreated away from many of the extra curricular activities Westview had to offer including the SBL after-school program. It wasn’t until this past summer Japjit found himself searching for a co-op placement.
Although SBL had already hired all the mentors and the volunteer positions were full, SBL program manager, Kaneka Watkins decided to interview him. Impressed by his maturity and sense of responsibility during the interview, Japjit became the Volunteer Coordinator – tasked with training and overseeing all volunteer duties for the summer program, a position previously designated for senior mentors.
Prior to the summer Japjit described himself as reclusive and reserved. “I didn’t think I’d like working with kids. I used to think working alone was the best option. Now I actually welcome an environment with other people. I didn’t consider myself an interpersonal type of person. Working with SBL I was able to express myself in words and speech rather than being a shy and an introverted person.” He goes on to say “I didn’t realize how much I loved working with kids, it is a role I can help others and be myself.”
Japjit has now transitioned from co-op student/volunteer during this past summer into the role of mentor. Going into his final year of high school, Japit is most looking forward to “advancing within the SBL organization, taking on more responsibility and continuing to grow.”
Describe your journey with SBL?
It started out in middle school when they came to Oakdale and told us about the program, I was like, “whoa something to do as a student for the summer.” Being at Westview, I lost touch with the program at first. Then my whole grade 11 year, I wasn’t the best student and had issues/problems. SBL surrounded me with people that helped to motivate me. I would of probably been at home being depressed watching movies and not talking to anyone. Once I got support, I began volunteering. Leading up to the summer, all of the mentor positions were filled, but based on what I was doing with the school year program, there was a way to get involved as Volunteer Coordinator.
Describe experience during the summer?
Amazing, I didn’t realize how much I love working with kids, a role where I can help others and be yourself. Being in a job where you rely less on following direct orders and straight following the cookie cutter directions, but get to make decisions, apply your own creativity, and think on your feet was great.
Describe your most memorable moment during the summer?
Waking up every single day and being to say good morning with a smile on my face. Having a reason to smile every morning. I’m not always the most visibly happiest person, but working with SBL made me really happy.
Growth as a person?
I didn’t think I’d like working with kids. I used to think working alone is the best option. I now actually welcome an environment with other people – more minds are better.
I didn’t consider myself an interpersonal type of person. Working with SBL, I was able to express myself in words and speech rather than being shy and introverted person.