Visiting the Maldives is a time for relaxation, sunbathing, diving, swimming and taking in the beautiful surroundings. For children, it’s about all that and soaking up fun and knowledge from the place and its people. Every month two mentors and tutors from Oppidan Education have been visiting Soneva Jani and Soneva Fushi to join the team at the Den’s kids club making children’s holiday time a meaningful, productive and fun time.
I talked to the incredibly inspirational Oppidan Education mentors Maddy and Courtney, visiting Soneva Jani this month, about the work that they’ve been doing.
Who are Oppidan education?
Oppidan Education are a London based mentoring company, focussing on providing academic support as well as enabling personal growth. It gives mentees ownership over their studies and personal development.
What are you doing here in Soneva Jani?
We are in Soneva Jani providing families with activities that encourage children to see holidays as places to grow and learn. Our activities tend to revolve around the island’s offerings. Encourage mentees to appreciate their surroundings and the cultural experience of being in a new place.
What kinds of things do you each specialise in?
I specialise in Maths tutoring, I’m really passionate about making maths more accessible and enjoyable to those who feel that it’s overwhelming.
I specialise in a wide range of things. Academically I focus on science and humanities-based subjects, more holistically, I work with young girls looking at confidence, self-belief, anxiety and occasionally their relationship to food and exercise.
I love working on the holistic side as for a lot of people the small steps are actually the big steps of progress. Externally, some progress might seem small but something like learning to keep eye contact can be a huge achievement for someone.
For me part of being a mentor is being vulnerable because to actually work with children and mentees, you have to be willing to answer the questions that you’re asking. Children have to feel like they can share, I create a safe space and I hold that in a gentle way
To do this, I use a method called ‘flip it’ which is when I ask a question, the mentee can say ‘flip it’ and I have to answer the question first. I also make sure to show my mentees my mistakes, to show that the first step to being great at something is to be bad at something. Mentoring isn’t always about what you say but what you do.
What are your backgrounds?
Studying statistics, economics, and Spanish at UCL. I also have a background in sport, last year I won the European Championships in Duathlon for my age group. I use my personal motivation in sport as a way to encourage mentees.
I have a BA from Warwick University in Theatre and Performance Studies and an MA in Acting at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, I’m an actress and a writer.
How are you finding Soneva Jani?
Maddy + Courtney
We feel incredibly grateful and lucky to be in such a beautiful part of the world and meet so many welcoming families. It’s been really great to work with the Den team to see how different people interact with the kids and being part of a wider resort team. It’s so nice to have the opportunity to combine physical activity and be educational.
The island is filled with so many smiling faces, is there anywhere more beautiful to learn and develop as an individual? And there’s a slide!
What books do you recommend to the kids?
I take chapters out of specific books that I think are relevant. For older girls, Untamed by Glennon Doyle works well for this. Sometimes we read feminist political books about body image, e.g The Beauty Myth by Naomi Wolf, and other books on how societal expectation can affect our perception of self.
I have a book club with each student where we chat about the book that they are reading. I also recommend books and authors to the parents as well, such as Brene Brown, and I often recommend meditating.
What books do you enjoy reading?
*Courtney gets out her Good Reads app*
I only read non-fiction, at the moment I’m reading a lot around behavioural economics and money. I’ve just read Happy Money by Elizabeth Dunn and Michael Norton and 21 lessons for the 21st Century (I love his books). I try to read in Spanish as well to keep my Spanish practice going.
To give you an idea of the books I read, the last three books I read were, Circe by Madeline Miller, Vagina: A New Biography by Naomi Wolf and How to Get Over a Boy by Chidera Eggerue. I like reading feminist literature, Greek mythology, self-development and plays.
Where’s your favourite place to read?
On my balcony at home in London when the sun’s out.
Here on Soneva Jani in the sunken bath on the decking.
Favourite ice cream from the Soneva Jani ice cream room?
Definitely peanut butter fudge