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Mentor, Pa Ia, is empowered by the growth of her mentees

A photo of Pa Ia

Pa Ia Xiong (she/her) has been mentoring with WISE since March 2022. She is a social work major at St. Catherine University who is highly passionate about creating social change so that all members of society, regardless of their identities, will have equal opportunities to thrive. Pa Ia's dream is to study international development at the graduate level, volunteer with the Peace Corps, and do work in nonprofit where she will be able to support youth and marginalized communities.

Read more about Pa Ia and her work as a mentor with WISE!


Q: What drew you to mentor at WISE?

What drew me to be a mentor at WISE was their emphasis on creating a community of support for immigrant and refugee girls. As a daughter of refugees, we are often given high expectations from our parents and society to succeed. I enjoy how at WISE we encourage our students to be their authentic selves, find community within each other, and create meaningful memories.

"Each mentee is unique in their own way and as a mentor I want to be a support system they can rely on when they need help or when they just need someone to laugh with."

Q: What are your personal or professional goals as a WISE mentor or intern?

My goal as a WISE mentor and intern is to provide support to the students in any way I can and help them become the best versions of themselves. I enjoy conversating with each student and learning what makes them laugh, smile, and cry. Each mentee is unique in their own way and as a mentor I want to be a support system they can rely on when they need help or when they just need someone to laugh with.

Q: What did you learn or take away from your experience with WISE?

One take away from my experience with WISE as a mentor, is continuing to see each mentee bloom. At each session, I noticed how little by little how the mentees began to open up to each other, engage in discussion, and support one another. It was powerful to see the girls grow into themselves and create community with one another. I cannot wait to see what each student accomplishes as they move towards the future!

Q: Did you experience any challenges during your mentorship or internship? What were they and how did you overcome the situation?

One challenge I've experienced during my mentorship is helping students during homework time, more specifically when it comes to understanding certain concepts. I've noticed that when explaining certain homework concepts, especially math, it can get difficult in helping students understand. It becomes difficult because of language barriers and not fully understanding the homework concept myself. However, despite these challenges I am working hard to learn other teaching methods, how to effectively communicate with students despite a language barrier, and learning what other resources are out there to help my students succeed.

Pa Ia wearing traditional Hmong clothing

Q: Please share a memory or experience that was significant to you during your mentorship/internship.

A significant memory during my mentorship experience would be bonding over Asian dramas, music, and webtoons with some of my mentees. Because of our similar interests we were able to fangirl and share our thoughts with each other about a certain show, artist, or webtoon. I felt like this helped the mentees feel more comfortable with me and rely on me when they needed help, whether that be academically or personally. The memories of laughing and smiling with my mentees will always stay with me.


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