In School

A Brief Introduction of GenDerations Mentoring Intl.

Stefan Hermann with the Minister of Education in Bhutan

GenDerations programs are designed to address many of the major problems that trouble modern societies around the world by applying the art of mentoring. Broadly speaking, GenDerations programs empower men and women, girls and boys, to achieve a deeper understanding of themselves and their role as members of society. Evaluations in the US and Switzerland confirm: these programs successfully bridge generational and gender differences by employing traditions and rituals for a modern world.

GenDerations, the Organization

GenDerations Mentoring International is a registered non-profit organization based in Switzerland, India and the USA with additional partner organizations in Southern Africa. The programs employed by GenDerations are designed to guide young boys and girls in their transition from adolescence to adulthood. GenDerations uses well-trained volunteer mentors to guide young people in acquiring a secure sense of identity, a mature orientation toward their lives, and the ability to recognize and articulate their feelings in resolving their own personal and interpersonal conflicts. GenDerations is an umbrella organization for four separate programs: Boys to Men, Girls to Women and the respective mentor enhancement programs Man to Men, and Woman to Women. GenDerations is politically independent, non-sectarian, culturally inclusive and financially transparent.

Who We Are

We are incorporated as a 501c3 charitable organization in New Delhi/India, Bern/ Switzerland and Santa Barbara/USA. Our work is also being introduced in Botswana and exists in South Africa carried by partner organizations. We are unique in that our focus is on establishing a sustainable mentoring practice, enhanced by an initiatory experience for youth to intentionally mark their transition from childhood to adolescence and adulthood. Our initial training weekend is for 9-12 year olds. In our gender specific adventure weekends for kids age 12-17, through carefully crafted activities, we introduce the youth to positive traits of manhood and womanhood: connection to feelings, accountability, responsibility, respect, integrity, and service to a cause greater than self. We bring out the connection between the head and the heart, what we call "truth-telling". Our funding is generated from a broad base of sources. Membership fees for the mentors, fundraising through government and foundation grants, as well as private donors. There are minimal to no fees for youth to participate in our programs. One of our core principles is: no one gets declined from participation for financial reasons. !

Truth-telling Circles

creating circles of mentors and youth to support to offer support for successes, challenges, and questions about life.

Rite of Passage Adventure Experience
Speaking Truth
Ritual and Celebration

GenDerations a school-based mentoring program.

Our Intent: We wish to provide a safe and supportive experience for youth to explore the challenges and successes in their lives as they go through the maturation process toward adulthood. From our own experience as teens, we know the value of adults or older students showing up with consistency, sharing their experiences with honesty, and caring about a mentees life and challenges. To facilitate this, we will offer our considerable collective experience to present a series of truth-telling circles with content relating to a young person's life experience.

An acronym describing our values in mentoring is LAMB. This stands for listening, accepting, modeling and blessing - doing this equals support. We train our mentors in this model which is based on the concepts of motivational interviewing. In our experience, teenagers thrive when they are seen and heard by caring, older persons. Throughout the program we incorporate the following values: integrity - being truthful and doing what one says one will do accountability - owning ones actions and their consequences; the positive ones with pride and the negative ones without shame or blame respect - of oneself and others; of people and property positive anger expression - anger is a normal emotion that can be expressed in constructive ways. Envisioning qualities of adulthood and making clear connections between current behavior and beliefs, and that vision service - giving of one's self to support others.

Logistics: We are suggesting a program based on the school calendar with weekly circles of 50- 90 minutes; program to begin at start of school semester; circles (TTCs) to be held during school hours; attended by up to 20 students (6th graders), 10 trained 11th graders as mentors and 4-5 adult mentors; encouraging participation by 1 or more school staff; student participants to be chosen by school staff. Our experience with this program is it functions best if conducted during school hours. Given that class attendance is important, other programs have agreed to rotate the meeting time between three periods, meeting a different period each week for three weeks and following a consistent rotation.

General Roles and Responsibilities of Schools and GenDerations

Both partners agree to work together in the true spirit of partnership, to ensure that there is a united visible, administrative, and managerial commitment to the school- based Mentoring program by means of the service components agreed to. A Memorandum of Understanding may be created to reflect the roles and responsibilities of both GenDerations and the school.

Our Expectations and Hopes: We sincerely hope, and expect, that through participation in this program, youth will work on their social skills, improve their ability to work with peers, enhance their selfesteem and conversational skills, show improvements in their ability to manage anger and conflict, improve their academic performance, lower their frequency of absenteeism, and demonstrate an understanding of accountability and consequences as a direct result of their personal decisions. We are very excited about, and committed to, conducting a successful and rewarding program for all concerned. We hope to have a presence at your school throughout the school year, introducing new students to the program and creating ways to keep participants involved. It is our expectation that some program participants will attend our weekend adventure event, as well as other events sponsored by GenDerations, and bring what they learn back to their peers in appropriate ways.

Next Steps: We suggest a meeting between GenDerations staff and school staff with the following as topic items:

  • agreeing to a general memorandum of understanding that outlines the program, including roles and responsibilities, while not intending to be a contract.
  • reviewing the program plan and content;
  • agreeing on logistics, start and end date, frequency and time of circles, location.
  • discussing the role of parents, how this program will be presented to them, and what contact GenDerations will have with them.
  • agreeing on security measures.
  • discuss metrics and measurements to access the effectiveness of the program.

Group Structure and General Curriculum

The following includes a description of a typical circle agenda, a possible eleven-week curriculum, and the Group Agreements which guide group interaction.

A Typical Circle Agenda – (50-90 minutes)

5-15 minutes

Check-in with name; a current feeling; a challenge; a success Help to encourage involvement and develop feelings vocabulary.

5-15 minutes

Group agreement review; clarity process (if necessary) Review of group agreements and recommitting.

30-45 minutes

Topic discussion or following up on a check-in topic A mentor introduces the topic by telling a story from her/his teen years. S/He models truth-telling and how to be vulnerable without feeling shameful. Then the students are invited to share their feelings and experiences on the topic.

5-10 minutes

Check-out: name; a feeling; something gained from today’s group Creates participation, naming feelings, and sense of success.