Zion and Brian

July 2021 TeamMates of the Month: The Dreamer and the Planner

“It’s rare to find a kid this open in my opinion,” says Brian, a TeamMates mentor to Northeast senior Zion. It only took a few weekly visits for the shy then-freshman to start sharing his thoughts and interests, but probably two months until he laughed at one of Brian’s corny jokes. 

“He’s not going to compliment you openly, but the compliment is trusting me with more conversation and things that are going on in his life,” recalls Brian. 

Zion says Brian earned his trust by being respectful and being a good sounding board. “He’ll listen to me and restate what I just said so he knows what I’m talking about. I can tell him what I’m feeling or what happened in that week. I don’t have all those emotions building up.” 

“He’s voiced a lot of the same concerns I remember when I was his age,” says Brian. “Some are different, but you can certainly relate with a lot of them, and the ones you can’t, that’s a chance for you to learn.”

Brian’s been able to observe Zion’s empathy by how he discusses his relationships with family and friends. “I don’t hear that a lot from a lot of kids in terms of how much they care about those around them,” says Brian.

In addition to empathy, Brian highlights enthusiasm as one of Zion’s strengths. “He’s got a lot of gusto,” he says admiringly. “He’s got a love for life that a lot of people don’t have.” Brian says it shows through his excitement in his many hobbies, including remote control cars, fish tanks, and drumming. 

They have been working together to channel Zion’s passions into goals and plans for the future. They recognize their different approaches. “He’s a dreamer; I’m definitely more the planner,” says Brian. “You have fire, let’s channel it.” 

“He’s more ‘lets make it happen,’ I’m just like, ‘let’s just see where it goes,’” Zion laughs. He says he knows Brian cares about him “because he wants me to succeed.” He appreciates his mentor’s advice and feels motivated when Brian cheers on his achievements. “It makes me want to keep going.” They find taking one step at a time is their best approach. 

“Those are the best moments for me, when he feels like he wants to attack the week, he wants to attack what’s next,” says Brian. “When he leaves hopeful, I leave hopeful.”

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