By Bryan Mapenzi, Wellness Counselor & Transformation Coach
As someone who identifies closely with being a mentor and a mentee, I have experienced how crucial it is to have a positive, caring adult in your corner. For Young Men of Color (YMOC), this caring adult with shared life experiences is arguably even more important, according to the National Mentoring Resource Center. As these young men aim to overcome systemic and interpersonal challenges, having a mentor who is/has cultivated their cultural competence paves the way for greater human flourishing in their overall lives. One way to increase your own cultural competence and widen your lens is through NWI’s Multicultural Competence Certificate program. Attendees gain practical experience and guidelines to expand their individual world views and cultural competence levels.
Human well-being or human flourishing is typically discussed through physical health and mental health lenses. However, additional research indicates that other outcomes have created a more comprehensive measure. These outcomes include happiness and life satisfaction, meaning and purpose, mental and physical health, character and virtue, and close social relationships. The article, On the Promotion of Human Flourishing, by Dr. Tyler J. VanderWeele, discusses the utility of these five outcomes, as they correspond to four primary pathways: family, work, education, and religious community. He posits that although these four pathways are not exhaustive in their connection with greater human flourishing, they are important and common. When properly supported and nurtured, there can be tremendous opportunities for human flourishing.
One key aspect of being a mentor is meeting your mentees where they are, while challenging them to cultivate goals and stretch to meet them. Part of being human means leading with our preconceived notions, assumptions, and our own world views, often incorrectly serving those we are tasked to help. This can directly affect how well our mentees actualize human flourishing. In my work, my prime focus is the human flourishing pathway of education, as I cultivate relationships, identify proactive ways to combat trauma, and ultimately get YMOC to and through college. Starting with students in seventh grade and working through their graduation from a four-year institution, I have the unique privilege to not only cultivate my own cultural competence, but also to help the young men I serve do the same. As I facilitate them in cultivating their own resilience and thriving, along with finding their authentic selves and persisting with passion, I know that it affects all five outcomes of their own human flourishing.
Human flourishing is important to all who seek to be their highest self. One could argue that because of systemic barriers, many YMOC don’t get a fair shake at this opportunity. Through education, I am able to help the young men I work with envision a life that they never thought possible, giving them meaning and purpose and a vision for greater life satisfaction. This meaning and satisfaction increases their overall mental and physical health, while they build close relationships with their peers in the program and a greater sense of self. Human flourishing can be utilized in any vocational domain, empowering people to become more self-determined and autonomous, while creating opportunities in society at large to incorporate policies that promote the key pathways that enrich overall well-being.
My position as a wellness counselor allows me the opportunity to continuously foster my own cultural competence on the path to human flourishing. As I am currently enrolled in the Multicultural Competence Certificate program through NWI, I am able to challenge the socialized lens that I see through, creating endless possibilities to be a better mentor, challenging my assumptions and biases about my students, and their intersecting identities. If we are able to embrace the idea of a “culture of one,” it allows room for more pointed, compassionate, and open dialogue with ourselves and others, validating people’s lived experiences. It opens the doorway to more opportunities to flourish and strive for optimal well-being because all will be seen and heard, as we consistently strive to have a more just and equitable society.
Cultivate High-Level Wellness for All
The High-Level Wellness Through Multicultural Competency Certificate course is a highly engaging, self-paced course designed by multicultural competency subject matter experts that incorporates the National Wellness Institute’s world-renowned Six Dimensions of Wellness and Multicultural Wellness Wheel, as well as meets the rigorous standards of the evidence-based Wellness Promotion Competency Model. Learn More.
VanderWeele, T. J. (2017). On the promotion of human flourishing. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 114(31), 8148–8156. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1702996114
Youth of Color. (n.d.). https://nationalmentoringresourcecenter.org/resource/youth-of-color/