At the beginning of the year, the student initiative ROCK YOUR LIFE! Bremen e.V. was established in Bremen and is now part of the ROCK YOUR LIFE! Network. The charitable association makes mentoring relationships between school children and students possible and is an advocate of equality in education in over 50 other towns in Germany, Switzerland, and the Netherlands. We spoke to the association chairwoman Marie Junker and the team member Johanna Koch about the new initiative.
1. What goals do you want to attain with ROCK YOUR LIFE!?
Marie Junker: We want to promote more educational equality with ROCK YOUR LIFE! Bremen. The same problem can be found everywhere: High school qualifications depend strongly on the social and economic backgrounds of parents. Youths that grow up in socially deprived areas are at a disadvantage within the education system. For example, this is down to the fact that especially schools in socially weaker areas have a lack of teachers and other resources. If we take Bremen as an example, 60 to 80 percent of the school pupils in the Schwachhausen or Oberneuland district complete their high school university-entry qualification. In the Gröpelingen or Huchting district however, not even 20 percent attain said qualification.
Johanna Koch: That’s exactly where we want to get involved and foster more equal opportunities. In order to support youths from socially weaker districts on their way to attaining their high school qualification and during their start in education, we want to create mentoring relationships between students and school children in the 8 th and 9 th grades of so-called “Oberschulen”.
2. How do you get in touch with the school pupils?
Marie Junker: We have a team that deals with making contact to schools and school pupils. We’re currently looking for partner schools in Bremen where we can present our mentoring program and make the children aware of us.
3. How does the mentoring work? In pairs or in groups?
Johanna Koch: ROCK YOUR LIFE! Works with one-on-one mentoring. This means that the students form pairs with the school pupils – the mentees. They can then plan joint activities together as they like. For example, going out for ice cream once in a while, helping with homework, or playing computer games. Sometimes it’s just good to know that there’s someone that they can ring if they’re burdened by something. The mentors are like their older siblings or friends.
Marie Junker: Furthermore, there are joint events where all mentoring pairs meet and eat, play, or take a trip together. There are also three seminars where the youths can deal with their strengths and weaknesses, for example, and the students are supported in the role as mentors. The seminars are held by trainers who are especially trained by the ROCK YOUR LIFE! umbrella organization. The mentoring program runs for a year with the option of being extended for a second year.
4. What personal motivation and interests do your initiative volunteers have?
Johanna Koch: Opening new perspectives to young people is a motivating goal. I feel that many of us were privileged in school. Now, as students, we want to create something positive for others from our privilege. We also want to actively promote opportunities in education, instead of always just being annoyed about inequality.
Marie Junker: The students should also profit from the mentoring program. ROCK YOUR LIFE! offers both sides a chance to grow and get to know new perspectives. It is also a great opportunity to meet other students outside of your own degree course.
5. How can students interested in the program become members and what can they expect?
Marie Junker: There are many different tasks at ROCK YOUR LIFE! On the one hand, we have an organizational team. Part of said team deals with contacting schools, accompanying mentoring pairs, and the organization of joint activities. Another team is responsible for our network in Bremen and getting in touch with companies for sponsoring or cooperation. Finally, there are also members who work on public relations or the association’s finances.
Johanna Koch: There is obviously also the chance to become a mentor. Despite the circumstance that our mentoring program is to only start at the end of the year, thus in the winter semester 2020/21, students can already register with us now.
Website ROCK YOUR LIFE! (in German only)
Instagram ROCK YOUR LIFE! Bremen
Facebook ROCK YOUR LIFE! Bremen