“BeFriend Vilnius” mentoring program helps foreigners adapt to life in a new country. It was created with the goal of people getting guidance and support from locals. One key aspect of this program is that mentors are not just providing advice or information; they are actively involved in helping their mentees with practical tasks like finding housing, navigating the job market, and connecting with social networks. For many foreigners, these tasks can be especially challenging due to language barriers and unfamiliarity with local customs.
Mentorship is often thought of as a professional relationship where a more experienced person provides guidance and support to someone who is just starting out. However, mentoring can also be a deeply personal experience where the mentor and mentee connect on a deeper level and share common interests and passions. Instead of a formal relationship, it creates a friendship. This is the case with mentor Ruta and her experience connecting with Yana from Ukraine. Read her story below.
Matching with a Mentee
My journey with “BeFriend Vilnius” started after a full-scale war in Ukraine. I volunteered in a few campaigns of “Lithuanian Red Cross Society” and “Caritas” to help Ukrainians, but always felt that it would be nicer to be useful for somebody on a personal level, like being a mentor or a buddy to a foreigner who’s new in the city. Instagram stories of a friend brought me exactly this opportunity in the “BeFriend Vilnius” mentoring program, and I immediately signed up. After a few months, I was matched with Yana. I wrote to my mentee on an email and soon our chat moved to real life.
The first time we met, those couple hours together flew by so fast that soon we decided to meet again. As my mentee was already accustomed to living in Lithuania (she studied here before), our conversations were mostly about our interests. Sharing the same passions for communication (we both work within this field in different spheres), culture, art and learning had us having long conversations sipping cappuccino at local cafés. Shortly after, I called my mentee a friend because our relationship felt like that from the start.
Our connection on a deeper level came naturally. We talked about the culture of Ukraine and how it’s now spoken about widely, as well as life and culture in Lithuania and what it feels like to be a foreigner here. We shared with each other the projects we work on and what’s it like to be a freelancer, find your niche, and pursue your dreams. I learned a lot from our exchanges and broadened my perspective on culture and art.
What’s best is that in a mentorship that feels like a friendship, both parties can provide support and encouragement to each other - not just in their professional lives, but in personal lives as well. It feels great to share triumphs and struggles, and offer each other advice and guidance based on our own experiences. And in doing so, it creates a sense of bonding and makes growth and life feel a little bit lighter.
Our meetings even moved outside Vilnius, as we recently stayed together for a couple of days in “Nida Art Colony.” I'm grateful to “BeFriend Vilnius” for this mentoring experience that brought us together. It formed a meaningful connection that hopefully will last for a very long time.
Through the BeFriend Vilnius program, Ruta created a new friendship for life - one she can continue to return to in a country with different customs than her own. Interested in becoming either a mentor or mentee? Join the program today and receive the benefits of a shared experience, personalised guidance, and common interests.