A Qualitative Study of Mentoring in a Multicultural Educational Work Setting: A Cross-Racial, Cross-Cultural and, Cross-Age Perspective of Two Women

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Virginia Tech

This qualitative study explored a number of paradoxes embedded in the mentoring phenomenon. Designed as cross-dimensional case study, the questions sought to better understand: (a) what challenges and barriers did the mentor and mentee face in their cross-racial, cross-cultural, and/or cross-age peer mentoring relationship in this specific organization? (b) How did the mentor and mentee address cross-racial, cross-cultural, and cross-age barriers? (c) What skills and/or competencies, as perceived by the mentor and mentee's experiences are needed to make a cross-racial, cross-cultural, and cross-age peer mentoring relationship successful?

The unit of analysis for this investigation was one pair - female mentor and mentee- with cross-dimensional differences, thus setting the framework for different cultural perspectives. Data collected for this study were transcriptions from three interviews, the mentee, mentor, and the dyad together. Characterized by the case and field method of research, combined data sources were used concurrently â at different times to compare the participants, views, values, perceptions, experiences and philosophies. The study's goals involved examining the challenges and experiences, of mentoring in a multicultural work setting, and identifying issues relating to cross racial, cross-cultural, and cross-age mentoring relationships. Although linguistic and cultural barriers crested challenges for this mixed pair, their co-created relationship helped to overcome cultural differences. Thematic findings that embodied the foundations of the multicultural relationship were categorized into six areas: Trust and respect, willingness to participate, cultural understanding, mutual compatibility and psychosocial support, knowledge sharing and role modeling, and leadership. Trust emerged as the overarching construct, which laid the foundation for the mentoring relationship structure, linking The Five C's (Characteristics) - compatibility, confidence, capabilities, communication, and cultural understanding. Unique in this pair was a source of motivation that transcended their individual selves for a greater cause, which has profound implications for future research. The study's conclusions addressed: a) mentoring at a macro level for the community, and for a greater good, and b) a form of dialogue to foster an appreciation of multiculturalism — an appreciation of human differences and commonalities. Recommendations were made for future research.

Multicultural Knowledge, Peer Mentoring. Multicultural Mentoring, Cross-Racial Mentoring, Cross-Cultural, Professional Growth