Thursday, February 21, 2013

ZooMates has begun!

    Our 2013 ZooMates program is up and running.  This year we have partnered with The Eigel Center for Community-Engaged Learning at Xavier University to provide weekly mentoring opportunities for 22 elementary students from St. Francis de Sales.  During our first encounter, mentees and their parents were introduced to their college mentors at our annual Meet and Greet.  A week earlier at the mentor training, I had alerted the college students that their first encounter with the mentees could be “awkward” and that they should be prepared to keep the conversation going.  I’m happy to report, they were all chatting up a storm.  Mentees and mentors not only shared their hopes for future successes but they also shared their greatest concerns about being in the program.  By far, the mentees were most worried about animals at the Zoo escaping their habitats and running around wild during one of their visits!  Smiles and laughter filled the cafeteria as we got to know each other through interviews and games.   The evening ended with everyone enjoying a meal together.

    On our next encounter, the kids and I traveled to Xavier University where we met up with our mentors and equipped ourselves with goggles and gloves in order to explore the world of Chemistry with Dr. Mullins.  Liquids boiled, flowers exploded, colors combined and evil gummy bears were dissolved as the ZooMates looked on with excitement and wonder. 

     I just have to say, I love this program.  Being with the children as they build positive relationships, explore their community and delve into hands on educational activities is what keeps me so passionate about my work with Faces without Places.  Stay tuned for more adventures; our next encounter will be at the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Gardens!
    - Shelley.


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