Five years ago, a group of young Salvadoran professionals living abroad decided to start giving back to their country and they chose education as a way to do this. The Mentoring International Program was then created and since then it has impacted hundreds of lives and has now subsequently expanded to Panama. In 2015, more than 150 participants around the world are now part of this mentoring adventure.

Through the website www.mentoringinternational.org, Mentoring International pairs outstanding high school students with successful young professionals living abroad who in return provide one-to-one mentoring. Throughout a year, mentors inspire their assigned mentee; they motivate them to finish their secondary studies; support them to define students’ career preferences while guiding and motivating them to enroll in higher education institution. Plus they help them improve their English level.

Flash-forward five years and the program has benefited many mentees, who when asked to describe the program in one word, their answers vary from success, to support, culture, interaction, creativity, experiences, innovation, friendship, brotherhood, helpfulness, beneficial, sharing, dreams, and learning. Mentors from all over the world have also found in Mentoring International a practical way to contribute to the community despite the physical distance.

As we move forward with what started with only an idea and has now become a reality, we would like to share with you the gratitude expressed by mentees during the recent visit of Mentoring International’s Director, María Luisa Hayem, to Centro Supérate Hilasal in El Salvador, who thanked Mentoring International for “being a light to us”; “helping us create, learn and become better persons”; and “helping us build our personal and professional lives.”

We have learned a lot throughout these 5 years, and here are some of our main lessons:

  1. If you have a dream, you don’t need to wait, just start working hard to achieve it.
  2. Technology can be a very powerful tool to have a positive influence in youth.
  3. Bringing together different expertise and motivation can enrich any volunteered-based project.
  4. Persevere, persevere, and persevere!