International Peer Mentor Program Helps Students Adjust

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Sarah Dematteis, Staff Writer

For the third year on campus, the International Peer Mentor program is helping more than 30 international students find their home within the University of New Haven community.

The program is designed to help new international students better acclimate to an environment they may not be familiar with in a place where they may not know anyone.  

“The program serves as a front line for students from places like China, or India, or anywhere outside of the country, that may not know anyone,” said Carlos Soto, coordinator of the International Peer Mentor program. “It is an effort to add some humanity and diversity to their experience.”

The program matches international students with current students at both undergraduate and graduate levels. Mentors help answer any questions the new student may have and help them get acclimated to the campus and the surrounding area. The mentor’s’ job is to assist the students in making sure they make the most of their college career, be that academically, socially, or professionally.

The mentor/mentee pairs have a variety of options within the program. They can choose a one-on-one mentorship or they can  participate in group activities. The program is designed to help the mentee feel comfortable with whatever method they prefer during their transition into college life away from home.  

“By participating in this program, the mentors are developing skills beyond things they can learn in a classroom,” said Kathy Kautz De Arango, executive director of the International Services Office (ISO).

Mentors have the chance to be representatives of ISO as well as the university and they have the opportunity to form lasting relationships with the new students.

Soto said the International Peer Mentor program not only provides the mentees with someone that can guide them through college life, but the program sponsors trips to help new students explore outside of campus.Trips to New York City and Bishop’s Orchards may be on the future itinerary.

The International Peer Mentor program is based in the International Services Office, an office dedicated to “advocating for and advising the international student population at the University of New Haven on U.S. immigration and visa-related issues,” according to its website. The office aims to support international students in their transition to the university, “celebrating individuals in an intercultural environment.”

Students can also go to the office for advice on academics, workshops on topics such as immigration requirements, employment, and cross-cultural communication, and various events and programs.

Interested mentees or mentors should contact ISO at [email protected] or visit the office in Echlin 200.