Volunteer program mentors youth through technology
MANILA, Philippines – Technology has changed the landscape of education, creating opportunities for long-distance learning and information exchange. Making the most of the digital age is news and information services company Thomson Reuters Manila whose employee volunteers in Metro Manila mentored college students in the island of Dumaguete – all through online communication and telementoring.
Thomson Reuters Manila partnered with the International Telementoring Program (ITP), a global initiative reaching 10 countries and responsible for mentor programs for more than 42,000 students worldwide since it was first launched in 1995. In the Philippines, ITP’s local partner is the Little Children of the Philippines (LCP) based in Dumaguete. Telementoring is a one-on-one session between the mentor and the student through video conferencing or constant exchange of emails.
Thomson Reuters’ telementoring started with 17 of its employees from the Legal and Financial & Risk business groups volunteering to mentor students from the province in accomplishing a specific project.
“It took us about a week to complete the line-up of mentors due to the project’s preference for Cebuano-speaking mentors. The response was heartwarming, as most of the volunteers are first time telementors,” shared Aida Hilario, group manager, Legal Editorial Operations.
“Our work involves collaborating with colleagues in other countries for Legal and Financial content, enabling us to be proficient virtual communicators so it wasn’t difficult for the employee volunteers. It made a difference to the mentors to know that the short email sent during my free time is able to encourage a student to do better in his/her class,“ she added.
In Telementoring, the mentors give their partner-students advice and help them with some of their homework. But the focus of this particular telementoring in the country, and at least for this batch, is on environmental awareness.
The mentors also help the students hone their leadership skills and take a greater interest in social and environment issues as these are part of their personal development. They are trained as well to speak and write in English, essential skills in the workplace.
“I come from the island of Bohol, which is just a one-hour boat ride away from Dumaguete. I am reaching out, in my own little way, through e-mail exchanges, and sharing my time and knowledge with my mentee. Not only has Thomson Reuters reconnected me to my roots, but it has also given me an opportunity to use our technology and re-explore my knowledge on an environmental issue—deforestation―and at the same time share it with a very eager and active student,” Legal Publishing Specialist Raisa Bantol said.
“One of the goals of the telementoring partnership between Thomson Reuters and LCP is to engage the youth in meaningful use of modern technologies,” said Alana Fournet, LTP coordinator. “We have done this through e-mail, Internet searches, video uploads, and video conferencing. Thomson Reuters volunteers have guided the youth in their quest to understand the causes and effects of deforestation in their province.”
Thomson Reuters also provided electronic equipment facilitated by Community Relations Specialist Sheila Snapp, who leads the company’s Volunteer Action Network (VAN) based in Eagan, Minnesota in the United States. The Manila office facilitated the turnover of the equipment locally.
“The Telementoring program supports not only the students but also our employees,” said Peter Buenaseda, senior site officer and head of Human Resources for Manila. “The company has a strong volunteerism culture and this provides them with yet another outlet for fulfilling their desire to help others.”
The Telementoring volunteer program is closely aligned to the company’s corporate responsibility initiatives in education, particularly in utilizing the company’s information expertise and technology in helping the youth develop their leadership and communication skills.