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Testimonial: Stéphane Molès, "Proxité – it's much more than just school support"

October 2017

The Fondation VINCI pour la Cité met Stéphane Molès, who joined the Proxité adventure this year. This nonprofit sets up two-person teams comprised of a young person from low-income neighbourhoods and an adult in employment. The meetings, which encompass help with schoolwork and enriching exchanges, take place once a week. A look back at a year of engagement.

EN What did this schoolwork support with Proxité bring you?

Stephane Molès: It's extremely rewarding. I figured I'd be helping with schoolwork in the strict sense, but Nourdine, my protégé, wanted more than that - he wanted to understand how the business world works.

It's a genuine exchange. We come from completely different backgrounds. We support young people living in a housing project in Nanterre, who usually come from a North African background. We talked a lot about current events, obviously – the way they feel stigmatised after terrorist attacks, things that go well beyond work. I think it's important to have this kind of exchange right now.

It's let me find new meaning in my work. At the start of my career, I worked in family businesses where they explained what we were working for. We visited worksites so they could show us that what we were doing wasn't just accounting. We were there to help people by taking care of the administrative side. Today, we spend our time in the office and don't get out much to the worksites. Getting out of the office and reconnecting with everyday life, helping our protégés with their schoolwork and showing them concretely how that will help them in the future makes our work more meaningful.

How is the schoolwork support organised?

Stéphane Molès: The actual schoolwork support session lasts one to one and a half hours, it's pretty straightforward and it doesn't require any preparation. The protégé arrives with their week's schoolwork and the points they're struggling with and need to go over again. You can draw comparisons with your own work. I can talk about prevention and social dialogue in the company, for instance.

Does this engagement fit in easily with your work?

Stéphane Molès : It's important to bear in mind that if you commit to working with a young person, it takes time. But Proxité leaves us a certain flexibility and the sessions end up becoming a real need. We can now organise the homework support on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings at the VCF head office in Nanterre. My job requires me to travel to worksites throughout France, so sometimes I can't see my protégé. But I can catch up the session – even if it's best to avoid having to do that. What's more, it's funny, I find myself thinking "No, I can't do that, I have to get back!". In some cases, I actually cut short my trip so as to arrive for the session on time.

I really believe in these young people and this experience has definitely confirmed my confidence in them!