International Educator - May/June 2012 - 115
Formal and Informal Programs
Some programs have formal application procedures and requirements for mentors while others are more laid back. Most provide mentors for orientation and the first few weeks; others continue throughout the semester or year. Social media sites expand the possibilities for mentees. “We give all buddies access to a larger international student pool through social networking,” Noah Kuchins, international exchange programs adviser at San Francisco State University (SFSU), says. “There’s a back and forth, with international students able to ask questions. We’re working hard to make the connections.” Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis’ (IUPUI) International Peer Mentoring Program, which began in 2004, is run out of the Office of International Affairs. Currently, groups of 3 mentors are matched with 5 to 10 mentees, this year 135—even
before the international students reach the United States . Each mentor team is a mix in terms of gender, major, and geography and includes both U.S. and international students. “In this way, the new international student meets a larger group of people,” Sandra Lemons, IUPUI associate director for student services, says. “It gives them a ready set of friends when they arrive.” The team concept also provides flexibility for mentors; they step up for each other when someone has a heavy workload or will be away for a while. The International Peer Guide program at UWEC also employs the team concept. Approximately 15 peer guides, both U.S. and international, serve 130 international students. Guides spend time with the foreign students during orientation to help prepare them for the first weeks of classes and help them adjust to the school. “Sometimes students feel more comfortable asking their peers about roommates
and other social situations, as well as how to manage their schedule,” Simek says. SFSU has a study abroad peer-to-peer program for domestic students, managed by the Office of International Programs, and a student-run international Buddy Program in connection with the International Educational Exchange Council (IEEC), which boasts 2,000 members. Many peer mentor programs seek to expand their offerings. IUPUI will add another team in September 2012 for engineering and technology undergrads. They are also developing a separate program for graduate students. Kent hopes to form an alumni mentoring association.
The Buddy Program continues the trend toward hooking up mentors and mentees before school starts. SFSU targets study abroad students while at one of the 130
M AY + J U N E . 12 InternatIonal educator