Shamlan Al BaharYou’re a director and founder of The Proteges Organisation, Kuwait. For readers who may not have heard of you, what is TPO and what does it do?

The Proteges is a mentorship organisation that was started in 2010 to focus on young people in the Middle East and to embed in them the values of tolerance, dignity, respect, honesty, humility, humanity, pluralism, giving, commitment, and ethics. In an area that has a lot of turmoil and problems, we think programmes like The Proteges achieve significant change.
At The Proteges, we believe in the 20/80 law – that 20% of the people affect 80% of the events in the world – so we focus on our gifted students and give them the right tools to change and improve the communities around them. Every year, around 2,000 students between the ages of 16 to 24 apply to The Proteges, and after intensive interviews and a screening process, we select 25 people who are fit to join the programme, based on their values, morals and other criteria.

Quite a number of The Proteges founders, mentors and alumni have done the Hoffman Process. What do you think resonates between the work you do and the work we do?

We believe that The Proteges and Hoffman work in the same field of improving lives and spreading awareness. Four of The Proteges founders have done the Hoffman Process after one of the mentors, Yarub Bourhamah, did it in 2013. He advised many of our mentors to do Hoffman as he believed it would help them be more clear-headed, be comfortable with themselves and be in a position to mentor others.

Our values in The Proteges organisation are in line with the Hoffman values. We believe that change starts when individuals discover themselves and their strength. Surprise plays a significant role in The Proteges programme, as does daily reflection, and Hoffman focuses on those too.

What triggered your personal decision to do the Process?

I was in a place in my life when I was feeling a bit confused. There was a lot of haze, and my decisions were foggy. In my position as the head of a mentorship program, I couldn’t afford to be in this situation. Hoffman sounded like the perfect mental detox retreat, and I gave myself the best gift.

What has changed for you since doing the Process? Which areas of your life have been affected?

I think the Process is sort of a cleanse that helps you to hold a clear mirror to yourself and achieve a greater understanding of your strengths and weaknesses. Once you can see how to deal with those, it’s much easier to pass on your knowledge to others as a mentor.

Have you continued to stay connected to Hoffman since you returned to Kuwait?

Yes, through The Proteges. We are working closely with Hoffman in the UK and also the US, as three of our mentors have done the Process in the UK and one has done in it the US. We are proud that we just held our first Hoffman graduate meet-up in Kuwait, which was very successful, and we’ll continue to run those in association with Hoffman in future.