Festus is a chartered accountant by profession and currently teaches in the accounting department at SAIT. He first heard about CFN’s Multicultural Peer Mentorship for Professionals through some members of the Nigerian community who had been through the program as mentees. At the time, he felt it was an excellent program for newcomers but the push to become a mentor came from his conversations with Ayotunde Kayode (Director of Community Relations at CFN) who thoroughly explained the program to him and encouraged him to become a part of it.
This year marks his 8th year since Festus started volunteering on the Multicultural Peer Mentorship for Professionals. Ever since he joined the program in 2014, he has been consistent in his dedication to helping newcomers settle and find meaningful work and has never taken a break all these years. Why does he do it? As Festus indicated, he became a mentor without any expectations and in the beginning, his understanding was that he was sacrificing his time, expertise, and energy to help other people. However, while developing the various mentoring relationships, he realized that he was gaining as much as he was giving – he was not only teaching his mentees but that his mentees also were teaching him a lot. And one of the most important lessons he has learnt in all these years as a mentor is that meaning in life is not just about material accumulation but about helping each other. We exist to help each other and what better way for him to help newcomers succeed than to help them get a foot in the labour market so they can provide for their families.
Further, being a mentor has helped him develop some crucial leadership skills, one of them being culturally appropriate mentoring. Every person is different and to help people succeed, we must meet them where they are while keeping their dignity intact. In one of his earlier mentoring roles, he was paired with a lady who came from a culture where male-female interaction among people who are not family members was frowned upon. He quickly realized that if this relationship was going to work, he had to involve the husband and so he took the bold step of having a lengthy conversation with him and once he gave his blessing, it proved to be a very satisfying mentoring relationship. For Festus, the best part about being a mentor is not just being able to help newcomers succeed but the connections he establishes with his mentees, long after the program has ended.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the past year has been quite challenging as we have had to move all of our programming online. This has meant, for everyone involved, a huge change in the way mentoring is done but Festus has been very understanding and flexible and continues to give of his best to the mentorship program.
For more information on how you can volunteer with CFN, visit www.centrefornewcomers.ca/volunteer