My name is Hanna and I am a second year Physics student at Swansea University. I have recently joined the Physics Mentoring Project and I am on my way to becoming a mentor.
One of the first steps in the journey to become a Physics Mentor is undergoing special training. To be more specific – three weeks of interesting lectures, meeting enthusiastic people, participating in exciting workshops and broadening your mind. Sounds like a dream!
The Physics Mentoring Project is all about inclusivity, equality and diversity. During our training we learn how to build a welcoming environment. A place where the mentees will feel comfortable. However, those concepts are not only introduced through words. Our coordinators lead here by example. From the very first session I felt acknowledged and accepted. It was clear that they wish to embrace diversity and want to hear our opinions. The training we had, was not by only just sitting and listening about all the things we need to know. No, it was engaging, interactive and very fun!
Throughout the three weeks of our training we covered a variety of different topics. From the basics of what it means to be a mentor, through planning our own sessions to delivering in front of a camera. In the meetings we were given opportunities to exchange opinions, experiences and to learn from one another. The training to become a Physics Mentor is not just absorbing the information shown on the slides of a presentation. It is all about the conversation, the ideas, the creativity of a collective of people who love science. In a way, I think before we become mentors to the mentees, we became mentors to each other. We learn and we teach by simply being in the presence of others.
In these sessions there is a place for everyone. No matter if you are shy, like me, or very outgoing – you have a chance to contribute. There is also no judgement. To put it simply, we live by the rule “There is no wrong answer”!
Even though, the training had to be held online and we could not meet in person, I still feel like I connected with the other participants. All we needed was our common passion for physics. I got a chance to meet many fantastic people from different universities, countries, ages, studying different subjects. Some mentors were new to the project, myself included, some were already experts joining for yet another year. Many of the things we learnt have application not only in terms of the project but also outside of it. Some sessions completely changed my perception of the world, made me more aware of the things around me. I believe that this training showed us how to be physics mentors, science communicators but also how to simply be ourselves.
I joined the Physics Mentoring Project because I thought it was an amazing initiative. Additionally, I wanted to gain more confidence and improve my communication skills, among other things. Now that our training has come to an end, I can say without shadow of a doubt that this project has already exceeded all my expectations. The sessions have filled me with joy and excitement. They inspired so many new ideas and I just cannot wait to put them to action as a Physics Mentor.
Finally, I want to give a huge thanks to our Project Manager Rosie Mellors and to Grace Mullally for making this such a wonderful experience. Thank you for creating one of the most welcoming and inclusive environments I have ever been a part of!