International Seminar brings together Mentorship projects
The Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences of the University of Porto organised an International Mentorship Seminar, on June 22-23, to discuss issues related to the experiences and practices of mentoring in higher education. The Faculty of Medicine of the University of Lisbon was present and participated actively in the round table discussions.
In a reception directed by the Director of the Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences of the University of Porto, José Alberto Correia and where the Social Action and Rectorate Services of the UP were also represented, the teachers linked to the Mentorship Projects and those responsible for the support offices for students filled up most of the room.
Brazil, Spain and various parts of the country have come together, precisely because they understand the importance of integration and adaptation of students for academic success.
Developing the student support projects Mentoring and Solvin' It, Ana Rita Sobral has been the point of contact between the Student Association of the Faculty of Medicine of Lisbon (AEFML) and the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Lisbon (FMUL), mediating a project that, despite having been launched just students, is becoming increasingly important for the institution, which started to formally support it.
Creating mechanisms for integration and monitoring of students, promoting a culture of well-being and academic, personal and social success; engaging in the development of transversal skills through lectures, workshops and other sessions, and enhancing networking among participants, promoting the involvement of new students in the opportunities provided by university life are the main pillars of the Mentoring Project and that Rita Sobral presented to the International Mentoring Seminar. But we wanted to talk to her to learn more about what happened.
The participants in the Seminar stood out by their plurality: several cities in the country and then Brazil and Spain. Do they all view mentoring with the same importance?
Rita Sobral: It was funny to realise that, for everyone, Mentoring is something essential, the role of the Faculty is no longer to produce and disseminate knowledge, but also to promote a culture of well-being, in all aspects, among its students and the rest of the academic community. There is also the concern of bringing former students in through Professional Mentoring Projects and it's important to state that the FMUL is working in that direction.
Concerns about the integration of new students are common, at the FMUL we worry a lot about the integration of 1st-time, 1st-year students, but in our faculties there is mentoring for students in other academic years. At the University of Porto there is also a Mentoring initiative in university residences, which is excellent for displaced students.
As a representative of our Faculty, what ideas did you want to convey?
Rita Sobral: What I wanted was to demonstrate that this project that started with the students was well structured and that the FMUL joined in to give a different input, aware of the importance of it and that this partnership had benefits for all parties, especially for new students.
I also wanted to give an example of the activities we develop: Mentors Day and APP, an application developed specifically for Mentoring, both of which received a lot of positive comments. But I also wanted to share the challenges that lie ahead in the future, many of which are common to all the institutions that were present.
Do these meetings force us as an institution to focus more on the students and on the support they need? Will anything change after this initiative?
Rita Sobral: The necessary support for students is in constant evolution, as is the kind of students that are joining the various levels of education. The needs and desires of our current students aren't the same as when they joined the Faculty ten years ago.
In the SIM (seminar) there were proposals for the creation of a Portuguese Mentoring Network and a Mentoring Letter, guiding principles for integration and living in Higher Education. In institutional terms, I believe that there is a commitment, given the recognition of the informal structure that existed, linked to Mentoring and Space S, but which results from the work developed as a Student Support Office, which will allow developing the existing initiatives while fostering the creation of new ones, such as the partnership with Solvin' It, and the advancement of a Professional Mentoring Project - Mentoring 2.0.
Rita, are there any meetings scheduled for the near future?
Rita Sobral: There is no schedule, but we agreed that this would be the first of several meetings. It was a very good seminar, unfortunately we were the only ones from central and southern Portugal, so I think that most probably the next meeting will also be in held in northern Portugal.
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