The September Mentor Program’s subject was to be communication. As this was subject I had done with children before, I volunteered to do this session. I was really excited about the activities I wanted to conduct and was able to prepare for the lesson with another Emerge volunteer. We prepared well in advance as to how we would conduct the lesson, and made the notices, cards, and props that we would need in order to communicate the lesson’s key elements.
Sixteen mentors attended the program. First, we briefed all of them on how we would conduct the program and on what their role would be in each activity. This program’s purpose was to educate the girls on how: a) communication is the process by which individuals and groups relate to one another and to their environment and b) as individuals, communication becomes our link to the world and our means of making our ideas, desires, feelings known to others.
We then asked the girls their thoughts, on whether or not they thought effective communication was important. I also explained to them that we would be doing a lot of interactive sessions that involved games and role playing, which the girls were very pleased about. While the day’s activities progressed, several girls offered related stories with examples of good and bad communication. Every time an activity was completed, the girls would be excited and have many questions about various forms of communication.
The most interesting session was when all mentors participated in a short skit about good and bad ways of communication. This role play was of a scene from an interview room where candidates were being interviewed. Each mentor acted out both effective and ineffective methods of communication and body language. The scene also included the observations of the interview panel, so the girls could understand how others view ineffective or effective communication.
The role play then continued with mentors displaying body language to communicate emotions, without any verbal communication. The emotions included anger, happiness, light-heartedness, sadness, distress, impatience, joy, annoyance, and affection. After each mentor acted their role, I started a discussion with the girls, asking them what emotion the mentor depicted. I also explained that even though people do not always use words, in order to avoid miscommunication and adverse reactions, we can still read their body language to determine how they are feeling and then respond accordingly.
Finally, we played the game “Pass the Clap,” where we practiced reading body language and eye contact when interacting with others. While initially it was difficult, after the first round, the girls were able to read them effectively and completed the activity with great enthusiasm; they were pleased that they were able to do this well. We ended the program by reminding the girls how important effective communication is and about the key messages of the program. While the girls did not want us to leave, we said our goodbyes and promised to come back again next month.