Shahab Wali Khan is a 3rd year student at the University of Pécs majoring in computer science engineering. He has recently won an award for the best mentor of the year by the Stipendium Hungaricum Mentor Network at the first SHMH banquet.
How does it feel to have won the “Mentor of the year” award?
Shahab Khan: To be honest I had been through a rough time in the past 4-5 years, thus, it feels good to see myself achieving something spectacular. The key is not to give up and to keep moving forward. Truthfully speaking I don’t know if I deserve it or not. However, it made me believe in my capabilities. Apart from this, I didn’t help people so that I could win an award, I did it because I like to. It’s in my nature.
I was particularly surprised at the fact that I made students from my country [Pakistan] and my university fellows proud.
Among all those universities and nationalities, I was the one who brought the award home. It was a proud moment for the students of Pécs from Pakistan, many of them told me personally that it felt good to see that someone from their country or city won such a prize and this made me extremely buoyant. Well, you know, the sky is the limit!
What motivated you to apply for a mentor position?
S.K.: It’s simple, I have followed one rule:
If I have suffered doing something, then I will try my best to make it easier for others.
I had a lot of troubles in Pakistan when I applied for the SH scholarship because we were the first batch from Pakistan and there was no one to guide us in any way. Then when I heard that the scholarship was announced again I made sure that I was in a position to help people in every possible way that I could. Also, helping others made me feel good. This is when I came across the SHMH mentoring program, hence, I applied for it. But to be honest, I would still be helping people around even if I wasn’t a mentor. So, this urge to help others and to improve my social skills were two big motivations. There’s no harm in making this world a better place. My mentor, Ahmad Nawaz helped me and in return I am helping others and I hope they will continue the chain. It’s like a chain reaction you know.
What motivates you to go on?
S.K.: Well the motivation is still the same. If I can help someone, then why not? I like to help others and the feeling I get by helping others, it is very satisfying. Along the way there was this person with whom I had so many motivational and inspirational conversations.
My mentor, Ahmad Nawaz also played a vital role in making me realize that I was doing a good job.
It was always my goal to compete with him and get one step ahead of him. Physically I might become more successful but, in my mind, I am always going to give him the first place. The situation is like the famous sentence: “I am shooting for the moon and if I miss, I will still land among the stars”. And also according to my religion’s teachings, I am doing something good so again: why not?
In your opinion, what are the qualities that a mentor should possess?
S.K.: According to me there are some basic qualities a good mentor should have. This is my ranking:
A sense of responsibility
Willing to share knowledge, skills
Personal interest in the mentoring relationships
How do you balance your studies with mentorship? Considering the fact that mentoring can be quite time-consuming every so often.
S.K.: It’s very easy. Most of the mentees need more guidance in the first month.
So, try to manage your time in the first month and if you can’t be there with them in person, try to keep in contact with them online via messaging apps and guide them.
For example, tell them what documents they need and which room to go. Send them Google maps links for locations, not just tell them to go there, but find the location on Google maps and send the links so they don’t need to search it. And then later they don’t really need that much help and whenever they need it you both can manage the time to meet. Most of the HÖOK trips (HÖOK trips are organised by SHMH for mentors and their mentees.) are on weekends so that’s okay with my studies. Also one of the benefits of being a mentor is that you learn to manage time.
Do you have any piece of advice for future students who might wish to become mentors?
S.K.: Become a mentor only if you think you can take the responsibility of being a mentor. Don’t just apply and then forget about your mentee or even never get in touch with him. I have seen it happen before, people just apply for mentorship, become a mentor and then don’t do their work, as a result, the mentees suffer.
They are international students just like you and don’t forget, you too were as lost as them when you first arrived in Pécs.
Hence, put yourself in their shoes. Therefore, apply if you are responsible. It will help you in numerous ways. Your time-management and problem solving skills will improve. And of course, not forgetting your social skills as well. You will get to know different students from different cultures. It will give you an opportunity to understand other cultures, how they pray, how they party, what they eat, what they wear etc. And again, you are doing something good morally: mentoring others and improving their life so they can live better with your guidance.
Written by Mariam Hamid