Our mentoring program, Crossroads: Where Cultures Meet, empowers New American youth between the ages of 13 and 20 to overcome barriers of racism, sexism, language, and cultural prejudice and develop into their full potential. We work with both mentors and youth to build relationships of mutual empathy and trust and to foster youth involvement and leadership in the greater community.
This program is a partnership between Baba Tree International (BTI) and USCRI/Vermont Refugee Resettlement Program, an organization that has served New American communities in Vermont for nearly forty years. Crossroads was created to address the need for young New Americans in the Burlington, Vermont area to be celebrated for who they are and be supported to meet the world from a place of self-connection, while also being given access to new resources and life experiences in the community-at-large.
"First day of high school, I was kind of in shock. I had no clue how to react to all this... High school is one of the worst places to start a new life somewhere where you're not used to living."
– Salah El Hachimi, Play in the Wild! student and New American mentee
Crossroads operates on a village model. Our mentors act both as mentors for their own mentee, and as a wider family of uncles and aunties for each others' mentees. Similarly, mentees learn from each other, acting as each others' brothers and sisters in school and in the community, in an ever-growing network of support. Our weekly homework club and bimonthly mentor-mentee gatherings further that sense of extended family and provide opportunities for shared educational experiences.
Like BTI's other programs, Crossroads emphasizes building connections of mutual empathy, understanding, and trust. Our mentors' preparation includes training in Mindfulness, Nonviolent Communication, and racial and cultural awareness. Mentors are encouraged to actively engage with and nurture their mentee's wisdom, passions, and ties to their culture-of-origin; and to be an informed ally in navigating issues of racism and prejudice, particularly within the school system. Once matched, mentors continue to receive ongoing support from our team and from each other, through monthly meetings and our dedicated online forum.
"I didn't understand anything that anyone was saying. I had this taste of what it feels like to be on someone else's turf... It gave me this sensitivity and real empathy for what my mentee goes through every day, all day long."
– Emily Copeland, Crossroads mentor
Prior to partnering on Crossroads, USCRI/VRRP and BTI worked together for three years to give opportunities for former refugee youth to join BTI's Play in the Wild! programs, and to create programming specifically for those youth at events sponsored by USCRI/VRRP, like World Refugee Day. USCRI/VRRP recognized that Play in the Wild! youth programs offered a learning experience that was safe, inclusive, and empowering for youth of all backgrounds, including refugee youth, and that our team members were proficient at working across differences of language and culture to build connection and inspire natural leadership.
Become a mentor
The first step is to contact us. We'll invite you to join one of our in-person or online orientations to learn more about Crossroads, including the application process and what might be expected of you, as a mentor.
Become a donor
Crossroads: Where Cultures Meet is funded almost entirely by individual donations. When you give to Baba Tree International, your donation helps to ensure the continued sustainability of this program.