Making Sidra sessions count

Making Sidra sessions count

Name: Juman Asmar

Role: Co-lead, Programming

Favourite activity: Basketball & football

Sidra Treehouse mentor since: 2018                   

Juman Asmar likes to push her students and get them out of their shells at their weekly sessions. 

The UOttawa biomedical student takes charge of Sidra’s math lessons, helps kids get comfortable reading out loud in English and enjoys joining an outdoor game of basketball or football.

“I’m kind of seen as the scary authority figure there,” Asmar laughed. “But the kids still trust me with their feelings, and that’s really important to me.”

Sidra kids see their mentors as older siblings and know they can come to them with their problems. Be it bullying, disagreements or other issues, Asmar helps them work through it and fix it together. 

The 21-year-old said the most rewarding part about working with Sidra Treehouse is when a kid comes up to her and shares a grade they received or an accomplishment.

“I feel really proud, like what we’re doing is helping you,” said Asmar. “If the kids trust me enough to tell me personal stuff about them, that makes me very proud of who I am.”

She remembers how one of their mentees didn’t know how to hold a pencil when he first came in. Now, he’s writing full words. She calls achievements like this a moment of “wow” for the team.

“He was one of those kids who you don’t think is understanding what you’re teaching him,” she said. “But in reality, he’s actually really absorbing it; he just doesn’t show you he is.”

When she’s not with Sidra Treehouse, Asmar is a full-time student at UOttawa, works part-time at a compounding pharmacy and enjoys baking sweets at home.

She said mentors who would like to join don’t need any special skills; the best quality a mentor can have is to be caring. 

“Whatever you’re good at, we’ll find you a position based on that,” she said. “The most important thing is that we can trust our kids with you.”

While Sidra sessions have been postponed, the kids have been messaging her on Snapchat and Instagram, wondering when they’ll get to be together again.

“I’m like, ‘Don’t break my heart like that!’ ” Asmar joked.

Sidra Treehouse could not run without the help of our amazing mentors like Asmar. Are you interested in joining our team? Fill out an application here.

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