Last November I was one of ninety women in Argentina who participated in the Mentoring Walk. The parks of Puerto Madero were filled with women from the local chapter of Vital Voices who walked together sharing experiences and supporting each other in the process.
The sunny weather made the day even lovelier, but there was more to it: a special kind of energy and happiness floating in the air, and something else that I couldn’t put my finger on. I’m a writer: I sense when inspiration is around, when something unique is taking place, and that is what was happening on that special day. I was feeling inspired and, most importantly, safe. And when someone feels inspired and safe, anything seems possible.
I had the opportunity to have one of the most rewarding experiences of my life: to be mentored by Geraldine Laybourne, the mother of the Mentoring Walk concept. Geraldine walked me and two other colleagues through our doubts and fears regarding our professional challenges. With kindness, clarity, empathy and wisdom, she enlightened shed light on our dilemmas and offered insight into our concerns.
Geraldine encouraged me to follow my truth, even if that means working hard to overcome my fears and obstacles. She helped me realize that it’s always possible to relate with others through the heart, to be kind and strong at the same time; that I can love my family, my job and myself with equal passion, and that I need to trust -myself and others- in order to achieve my dreams.
Participating in this walk triggered new questions. I thought about how we, women, are afraid of taking risks and doing something different from what we’re told to do. I thought about my mother, who never did what she was supposed to do: she was born in a ghetto during the Holocaust, she wasn’t supposed to survive. Once in Argentina, she wasn’t supposed to learn the language quickly, become a medical doctor, raise a family and be successful, but she did. As one of her colleagues pointed out, back in the early years, a woman was supposed to stay at home, and hang her diploma up on the wall, take care of her husband and leave the real stuff for the men. But she was stubborn and always followed her instincts, wherever they would take her.
After she passed away, not only did I miss her, but I also missed that special atmosphere that happens when two or more women support each other.
And that is, in my opinion, what makes the Mentoring Walk so special: I was given time, support and a safe place to ask questions and receive advice. After that, I felt able to reaffirm my professional choices, even if they are a challenge to achieve in my country.
I also know that I want to weave this invisible safety net that is growing around the world, changing it. I want to help the ones who feel lost or can’t have the freedom of choice.
This mission is something that I’ve discovered through this experience; so, like I promised Geraldine after our mentoring walk, I will pass the torch and I’ll try my best to do well and do good to this world.
Mariela Ghenadenik was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in 1977. She graduated in Communicational Sciences (University of Buenos Aires) and has an MA in Marketing (St. Andrewå«s University).
As a writer, some of her short stories were honored with different awards and published in anthologies by Random House Mondadori, and in argentine cultural magazines and newspapers. In 2010, her first novel (“Desde el aire”) was selected as one of the 10 finalists in the International Novel Contest “Letra Sur” from Yenny/El Ateneo Publishing house.
She currently works independently in Content Marketing & Communication, dreams about publishing her work and starting her own consulting company.