Moscow held the first Mentor all-Russian Forum. Practicing mentors alongside with representatives from HR departments of the largest state-owned and business corporations, representatives of federal and regional government bodies, NGOs’ and educational institutions’ members participated in it. Galina Semiya, professor of the department of psychological anthropology of MSPU, member of Coordinating Presidential Council on Actualising National Strategy for Children 2012-2017, Co-chairperson of the State Duma’s Coordinating Committee on Family, Women, and Children, made a report in the framework of one of the Forum’s sections. She shared her vision of mentorship and what a real mentor should be. 


The speaker mentioned, mentorship includes experience sharing alongside with social, psychological, and pedagogical support, constant assistance to a child, and participation in their life. That is a hard work. Only a true professional, who treats their job with an open mind, can manage it. 


According to Galina, leading psychologists distinguish three factors identifying results of child’s development. Mentors, teachers, and educators should consider them while interacting with children. They are heredity, development conditions, and child’s opinion. Thus, people working with children should organise necessary environment, which contributes to full unleash of children’s artistic and intellectual potential. Moreover, it is necessary to remember that mentor is a person who influences forming child’s opinion in a greater degree. That is why they should not provide children with pattern, but teach them to think and decide for themselves. In other words, a mentor is not the one who just taught a child how to read and write. A mentor is the one who managed to get a child interested in it, who inspired them to develop and to set the new goals. 


Galina Semiya noticed it should be comfortable for a child to communicate with their mentor; otherwise, there would be no result. Furthermore, a person equal in age gaining experience sufficient for mentorship and necessary spiritual qualities can support, share their knowledge, and help with unleashing one’s potential as successful as a senior person. 


The speaker supposes it is essential to pay special attention to mentorship in orphan asylums. It is necessary not to let those children have orphan syndrome in future. Undoubtedly, mentorship is not for everyone. That is a very demanding and complex job. It is necessary to be able to communicate with a child, identify their talents and strengths with their development, be ready to always be there for a child, and secure their safety. Thus, according to Galina, mentors have to take special courses and workshops, prevent professional burnout, and, most importantly, sincerely love their job and the opportunity to work with children. 


Orphanhood is one of the main points of Galina Semiya’s work. She formed a Russian model of overcoming social orphanhood with mentorship being one of its major tools. The speaker is sure national policy’s efficiency depends on local and federal authorities’ focus, dynamic development of legislation, financial support from the federal level, and creative approach on the regional level. Galina highlighted that now various NGOs are doing mentorship or its support. Among those are Big Brothers Big Sisters of Russia, Childhood Keepers, Guest Family, Timchenko Foundation, etc. 


It is great mentorship is vibrantly developing in the whole world and gains more and more popularity. Moreover, participants of Mentor all-Russian Forum repeatedly proved from their own experience, that mentorship is one of the most efficient and productive ways of educating children and youth. 

Viktoria Yezhova, news agency of the Eurasian Women’s Forum

Translated by Nikolay Boykov