In Brighter Futures students are paired with a Maastricht high school student. The students are supported in doing their homework, developing their talent and realizing their dreams. That all sounds very nice, but why would a student volunteer 3 hours a week to help a student? To find out, we talked to students, pupils and coordinators.
At the Brighter Futures kick-off event in the Student Service Centre, scholars and students get to know each other better through introductory games. This is the perfect opportunity to start a conversation with those involved. Of course a cup of coffee or tea and a delicious piece of cake could not be missed.
Creating an impact
Edith, Marie, and Monique are school coordinators of the involved Maastricht schools VMBO Maastricht, Bonnefanten, Sint Maarten, and Bernard Lievegoed. What they find especially valuable is that Brighter Futures helps students who would otherwise be less likely to be helped. According to them this is often due to a lack of money for tutoring or a lack of motivation. The student chooses to voluntarily tutor a student and a bond is also built with the student. The fact that the involvement comes from two directions is important to build a bond of trust from the student’s point of view as well.
All three schools have been participating in the project for several years. If a school decides to continue, surely the project has a positive impact on the lives of the students? Monique answers this in agreement: “There is definitely an impact to be seen, a striking example of this is one of our students who started with Brighter Futures last year, and made a very big progress. This year he’s in it again.”
Scholar speaks out
The attendance of the scholars is not very high. I ask the students why. Luc says that his pupil lives several hours away. Transport in the evening is therefore a problem. I think it must be a challenge to have to travel several hours to get to school. So it is extra valuable when someone like that gets a helping hand.
One of the students present is participating in Brighter Futures for the second time. He talks about his experiences in the past year. They had been working every Wednesday afternoon on better planning and more structure at school. This year he has another student helping him and they will work together on his concentration. He doesn’t mind that this year there will be another person to help him, “I can learn something new again from another person, so I’m really looking forward to it!”.
What do these students think?
During one of the introductory games, I hear Christiaan, a participating student, talk about what he thinks is important when supervising a student. First and foremost, the focus is on the atmosphere that is there. First there has to be a bond of trust, but at the same time he does not want to force that bond and wants to remain sincere. Annemarie explains enthusiastically: “During the games it became clear to me that I used to deal with exactly the same problems. Fortunately I know what it is and I can help the student with it. Now I’m even more excited about it.”
At another table, I run into Elmira and Malika. Both are motivated to do their part. Moreover, Elmira, a first-year psychology student, enjoys helping people, as she used to do in school, or now with her sister. The difference is that the counseling is now official and you are assisted by Match with workshops. The last workshop was about powerful questions and what stuck out to Elmira the most is that you shouldn’t set yourself up as a therapist. Malika, a student of fiscal economics, explains that she used to be a “problem child” in high school. Because of this, she feels she has a better understanding of what is going on in someone’s head in difficult situations and can help them.
In short, the students who participate in Brighter Futures do so primarily because they want to help a scholar move forward. They use their experience to make a big impact. The fact that they receive a small compensation for this and that it looks good on their CV is of course a bonus.
Want to participate? We are looking for students who want to give guidance to a high school student for at least 3 hours per week until the summer vacations. You can register via https://matchmaastricht.nl/projects/match-for-brighter-futures/ .