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INSPIRING CHANGEMAKING: INTERVIEW WITH mentors Margaret Wanjiku Mwangi & Hayette Soltana Bellakehal

By Raquel Armendariz Sucunza, Global Schools Project Lead (Communications)

Mentors from the Advocacy program by Global Schools Program (GSP) are key to the progress of the newest cohort of advocates. As former graduates, Mentors are helping by sharing their previous work, encouraging activities, and advising our advocates in all capacities.

The goal of this interview is to recognize the work of Margaret Wanjiku Mwangi & Hayette Soltana Bellakehal, recognized as Mentors of the month in October. Coming from Tanzania and Algeria respectively, they’ve worked together to engage learners and forward their attention to the challenges. Thanks to their efforts, their Mentees are learning how to be part of the solution.

Interview with Hayette Soltana Bellakehal

Hayette is a foreign languages teachers and a Global Schools mentor of 4 teachers from diverse countries across North Africa. She trains and assists fellow teachers in integrating sustainable development goals into the curriculum to make schools more sustainable. She won the 2022 Best Media Award for raising awareness about climate consequences among young Africans. Hayette is a Common Futures Conversations member at the Chatham House and also a UPG sustainability champion.

Tell us more about your Mentoring role and what it means to you.

The mentorship experience is about sharing information and knowledge with others in the professional circle. The best reward I received was seeing my team grow and inspire positive change in their local communities. As mentors, sometimes we adopt positive energy to motivate others in challenging times and role model ourselves to sustain their development. For me, this role is everything but exercising power. Through active listening and mutual trust and respect, we can develop the best version of our mentees to avoid falling into the urge to make them a clone of ourselves.

What led you to decide to become an Advocate in the first place?

My passion for education has motivated me to be a mentor. I signed up for the program to help fellow teachers gain innovative skills to equip themselves to teach 21st-century students. Teaching is an evolving skill that goes on a lifelong process, and as a mentor, I am honored to be exploiting both. There is nothing better than seeing the holistic development of the students as an outcome of the professional development of the educational staff.

What achievements are you most proud of?

I am so proud of the incredible work of my team. For instance, Maria Jonaper Palmares has successfully overcome the cultural barrier and implemented many activities in Libya despite her inability to speak Arabic. The nominated "Advocate of the Month" has also contacted several local organizations and foreign embassies to collaborate and increase her outreach.

What is the most meaningful part of your work?

The most meaningful part of work is seeing goals transforming into action plans. The small goals also help in effectively tracking and assessing the progress. With the best interests in mind, I provide accurate and honest guidance through regular communication and continuous follow-up of objectives and implementation. In the same vein, I navigated region-specific resources, and additional documents to install confidence toward quality education.

What is one thing you wish to tell current and future Global Schools advocates?

Build lasting relationships! Your advocacy mandate has no limits if you sustain it with good surroundings. The healthy work setting endures even when you are no longer part of the Global Schools Program. My advice for current and newcomers to our family is to stay updated and consistently work on yourself. The program cultivates capacity-building for teachers, and this will be of great benefit to your mission and self-development.

Interview with Margaret Wanjiku Mwangi

Margaret Wanjiku Mwangi is a former Global Schools Advocate in Tanzania and currently a Mentor in the same advocates program. She is currently pursuing a Master's in Monitoring and Evaluation, and she holds a Bachelor's in Business Administration in International Business and Diploma in Education. Margaret has over 10 years of experience in teaching and in administration. She is very passionate in equipping young people for a better future through teaching and through giving young people the chance to take lead in bringin

g much-needed change in their communities.

Tell us more about your Mentoring role and what it means to you.

My role as a mentor is a role that I take with so much pride, a sense of duty, and passion. I realize and recognise that I was chosen for this role from several other applicants from across the globe and thus the need to be diligent in everything I do as far as the role is concerned. My journey and role as a mentor have so far been full of learning, and networking and quite impactful in my career and personal growth. By virtue of being a mentor, the Global Schools advocates programs accorded me the privilege of joining the "Global Classroom " course which has been a great platform for diving deeper in learning about the SDG's. My mentees and fellow mentor are all from West Africa while I am from East Africa, engaging with them has given me an opportunity to embrace diversity as we are from completely different backgrounds and culture.There is just so much to learn from them.

How are you helping Mentees in their advocacy journey?

After my advocate term, I decided to apply for the mentorship role as a way to give back to the program for giving me the opportunity to be an advocate. I also wanted to be part of the support system for the advocates who would be under my mentorship as from my advocate's role, I realized that it is very easy to feel alone, confused, lost, and overwhelmed in the advocates' role when there is no direct contact who an advocate can reach out for help or guidance.

As mentors, we act as a point of contact for our mentees and keep consistent check-ins with our mentees individually and as a group. We put together a group where the mentees can get a platform to share their achievements and ask for clarifications from us and from other mentees. We also have a monthly meeting with the team where we give the mentees a platform to share their experience as advocates and share feedback on how they are fairing in their roles.

What are your goals as a mentor?

As a mentor, my goals are to first of all be a present support system for the mentees. I check on the mentees individually and have conversations not just on the role but also on their daily life. Secondly, I endeavor to be a reliable link for the mentees to the Global schools advocates team and vise versa. Thirdly, I look at the role as an opportunity to network and join hands with other advocates across the world to ensure that ESD is implemented and introduced to as many schools as possible. Fourthly, I see my role as a mentor as a chance to learn more about SDGs and to eventually move my career towards SDG-related work.

What is one thing you wish to tell current and future Global Schools advocates?

To the current and future advocates, I would like to encourage them to take their advocate mandate as a golden opportunity, which is nothing but a once-in-a-lifetime chance that not only leads to career growth but also gives them an opportunity to be of impact in their communities. This is a dear opportunity to be part of the solution to the many challenges and problems that are in the world today. While the results of the advocate's role and work may not be instant, by effectively and efficiently teaching ESD in their schools, advocates indirectly equip thousands of pupils and students who in return live out the SDGs in their immediate communities and, as a result, contribute to the ripple effect of positive change in the world. I encourage the current and future advocates to spread the word about global school advocates programs and conduct workshops and training for other teachers and parents and also encourage all teachers in their network to apply for the Global Schools advocates program.