Mentor International Students with the International Mentorship Program

Mentor International Students with the International Mentorship Program

By: Sabrina Azaria
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Two and a half years ago, when I decided to go to Vancouver to pursue a university degree, I had no one I could depend on in the city. I had no relatives, no friends, nothing. Although I had signed up for every orientation available – on campus and on residence – I still didn’t feel very secure despite being wildly excited. One day by chance, however, I found out about SFU’s International Mentorship Program, where new international students got matched up with a student mentor and volunteer who serves as a guide, resource and friend to the new students. Right away I signed up and got matched with a lovely girl about two weeks before I had to leave my home country for Canada. We struck up a conversation through email and, really, you can’t imagine how relieved – and excited! – I was.

My mentor and I met about one or two weeks after I arrived in Canada and she was one of the sweetest people I have ever met; she made me feel welcome in my new environment, and she was also helpful and resourceful in terms of my academic studies. In that moment I decided that I would love to be a mentor too one day.

The next year I fulfilled that wish and signed up to be a mentor for new international students. I had two fun trainings in the middle of summer, and received several mentees – that’s what you call the people you mentor, which is kind of cute – and they all came from different countries around the world. We met and talked and got to know each other well. I tried to help them adapt in their new environment and university, and also made some very good friends. I also had the opportunity to organize some events for the program and invite my mentees to attend. And now, two years later, my mentees are still very dear to my heart! I found that being an international students mentor was not just about giving, but receiving as well – I gained a lot of love and friendships and I’m very happy that I decided to do it a few years ago!

Now, if you’re interested in helping out new international students with their transition to university and helping them find new friends in a new country, or if you’re looking to develop your own leadership skills, SFU International Services is once again open for volunteer mentor applications. Visit the Mentorship Program website for more information or go straight to myinvolvement to apply (it’s under the “Opportunities” tab.) My fellow ENGAGE blog writer, Karen, also has more information about how the program works and her experience as a volunteer mentor, which she had shared here. Go have a read and if you decide to go give the mentorship program a shot, have a blast!

Sabrina Azaria is an undergraduate in Communications with a minor in Publishing and (hopefully) a certificate in Italian. She loves reading and traveling, and currently volunteers for the third Indonesian Film Festival in North America.

Posted on February 20, 2013