PHILADELPHIA - Areebah Rahman, a student at Temple University, first became London’s mentor the semester before COVID-19 and the pandemic began. When everyone went home to safeguard our communities, the transition to virtual mentoring was difficult, but Areebah made sure to check-in often and set weekly facetime sessions with London. The two played virtual games, and Areebah’s siblings would join in for some fun.
London lives near the Beckett Life Center, in a community that DREAM serves in Philadelphia. She and Areebah are both a part of DREAM’s Village Mentoring program, a mentee and mentor, respectively. “She is so so sweet,” Areebah says with a laugh, “She’s kind of a mentor to me.” The fact that London, just in seventh grade, is already taller than Areebah contributes to the effect. “She always asks me, ‘hey, how’s your day? How are you doing?’ She’s very crafty and she’s given me bracelets, she’s given me paintings, she’s just incredibly thoughtful.”
“One day we were walking mentees back home after DREAM Friday, and this was recently, and it had been a long time since I saw her in person because of COVID. She had been holding onto this painting for a long time, and she said ‘Areebah, I’m going to give it to you, don’t forget.’ Areebah and London had been facetiming about this painting for over a year at this point, and Areebah promised to hang the painting on her apartment wall. When they arrived at London’s home, Areebah accidentally forgot to take the painting, distracted by directing the rest of the mentors and mentees to their homes. London called her soon after, and Areebah rushed back to retrieve the precious piece of art. London pushed the painting out a second floor window and dropped it into Areebah’s waiting arms, a dramatic moment that Areebah still remembers vividly today.
As a leader in her Village Mentoring chapter at Temple, the balance between facilitating DREAM events and reserving time for a mentee can be difficult to find. It’s one of the hardest challenges Areebah faced while mentoring London. “We don’t have a specific division of labor [at our chapter], the chairs generally do everything together…I tend to take on too much, and plan alot, and I’m working on being present in the moment and trying to have fun with London more. I think especially if there are three of us (chairs) there we should try to divide things more.” Both London and Areebah appreciate the results of the chairs sharing responsibilities - more time for them to spend together enriching each other's lives!