Hi, I’m Alex, one of the mentors on the WeDiscover team, and this is the beginning of my new blog to give you a rundown of our weeks working with the young people of Conwy and Wrexham. A day at WeDiscover can be a real mixture sometimes, from talking CVs in the morning to deciding who should be thrown out of a hypothetical hot air balloon in the afternoon. Within these sessions, amongst the many things we’re learning, there’s also a lot of laughing. There could be a surprise guest appearing on somebody’s Zoom call or a viewpoint that comes straight out of nowhere. This seems to be so common that my housemates have often mentioned how jealous they are when they hear my laughs coming from the room I’m working in. This is why I thought it might be a good idea to give an update on our week; the things we learnt, the things we laughed at, and the things we may not do again.

Earlier this year, Laura gave me the task of putting together a roster of games we can bring out to boost the mood. I found Codenames, an online version of one of my favourite boardgames, and this was brought out on Monday morning when a guest speaker was unable to make it. The staff had a lot of fun ‘testing’ this one out so I was glad to see it worked well with the Gappies too. It’s a complicated game to explain here but I really recommend checking it out if you can. There’s a lot of fun to be had.

Monday also included an all-important discussion on fake news and how to spot it. It’s brilliant to see a lot of young people are already hot on this kind of stuff, having grown up with the internet, but it seems like ‘deep-fakes’ are going to be tricky to watch out for. We had a look at these examples, where Tom Cruise is being even more strange than usual, and it’s almost impossible to spot they aren’t real.

Our Name That Tune session is one of my favourites, given its quizzing element and my competitive nature (and despite my absence of musical ability). After Sam’s music-based quiz, we all whipped out the Kazoos we’d sent out to all the Gappies and, one-by-one, we’d play a song for the others to guess. This featured some pretty poor renditions of some great songs but also revealed a bit of a generation gap in our song choices.

The Balloon Debate was another highlight of the week and a session I always love due to the ruthlessness of some but the empathy of others. For this session, each participant is given a role – they could be a doctor, a teacher, a footballer or many others. All these characters are flying off in a runaway hot air balloon. They must decide which two must be thrown off to allow them to land safely on an upcoming desert island. Throughout the session, new information comes out about each character, meaning we may rethink our first choices. This time around, we had one character volunteer to sacrifice themselves, being the character of a homeless person, as they would have empathy for others and want them to survive. The premiership footballer also took a real kicking for their arrogance as they argued their celebrity status meant a search party would be more likely to look for them.

The week ended with our spin on teaching interview techniques, where the Gappies witness a couple of mock interviews with the mentors and they must decide who they would hire. I played the role of the good interviewer and Sam was the bad, both interviewed by a ruthless employer, Penny, as we went for a barista role. The session gives the Gappies a chance to see what to do and what not to do, as well as giving us mentors a chance to flex our acting skills. This one was particularly hard to keep a straight face as I watched Sam’s bad interviewee get torn to pieces by an unsympathetic Penny.

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