What is it like to work as an NCS mentor?
Back in 2015, Aarthi Thangavel was 16 years of age. She was keen to broaden her view of the world, experience adventure and have fun with her peers, so having heard about NCS she filled out an application to go on the NCS programme.
That summer the programme helped her expand her circle of friends and she found herself in contact with new people from across her local neighbourhood – people with whom she would not normally have a chance to mix with. As she says, she was used to her own school environment and being with the same people, so this gave her a new perspective and social circle.
Three years later, she is still friends with people she met on the NCS programme.
She has accomplished many things since her teenage NCS experience, including completing her first year at university studying economics. Over the years she has volunteered as a tutor, helping those learning English – she herself speaks multiple languages, and she’s been able to help those of Sri Lankan heritage, in particular, integrate and feel settled in the UK.
When considering what to do over the summer of 2018, Aarthi saw an opportunity to return to NCS – this time as a mentor. As she says, she wanted to be a part of the programme and mentoring young people would mean she could help them have the same positive experience that she had as a teenager.
She experienced a wonderful team dynamic between the young people and The Challenge employees this summer, so we asked Aarthi what contributed to the success of the programme she worked on. Her belief is that the strong communications between all those working on the programme proved a key part of its success. This then encouraged a camaderie across the team, which also made the young participants extremely comfortable. She also believes that being able ‘read’ the dynamic of the group of young people was key – for example in some situations she could tell that rather than being told what to do, one group in particular responded better to encouragement at key points, which allowed them work independently.
Aarthi hopes to stay involved with NCS in the future and believes the campaign element of the programme is now even more impactful than when she was a participant three years ago, giving young people an amazing opportunity to make a difference.
Having spent summer 2018 working on NCS with The Challenge, Aarthi found it such a rewarding experience she would like to return and work for The Challenge on the programme again next summer.