Thursday, September 24, 2015

International Student Orientation: Global Mentor Perspective

On the 24th of August, 2015, Hofstra University was very glad to officially welcome the newest group of International students which were resuming for the Fall 2015 semester. This group consisted of over 300 international students from over 35 different countries. Preparations for their arrival began a year in advance, and we were finally happy to be able to welcome them.
In anticipation for their arrival, the International Student Affairs Office in collaboration with the Peer Mentor program put together a team of Global Mentors, which consists equally of both international and U.S. American student volunteers, to help the new students with the transition to living and schooling in the U.S. As a member of the Global Mentor team, I can say it was a great opportunity to meet and help new international students.
Also, for the first time the International Student Affairs office in collaboration with the Admissions Office and Provost Office and with help of the Global Mentors successfully planned and executed an airport pickup service that was available for all interested students coming in from the John Franklin Kennedy (JFK) Airport, New York. Knowing how long and exhausting international flights can be, we felt it would be nice to help alleviate some of the stress by picking them up from the airport and providing a smiling face to encourage them.
The undergraduate International Student Orientation lasted from Sunday, August 23 up until Thursday, August 27, 2015. At the arrival of the students earlier on the Sunday, there was a light pizza party to welcome them. There most of them got to meet with their Global Mentor and other international students, after which everyone proceeded to the bookstore to get supplies and enjoy a cupcake decorating party.
On Monday, the International Student Affairs Office organized a Welcome to Orientation session.  We had more of a full house here, a light breakfast, took a group photo and the rest of the day was spent getting acquainted with the campus and completing their arrival checklist. In the evening, interested students went on a bus to Target to shop for much needed supplies.
On Tuesday, most of the day was spent taking the ELP exams, which is required for every international student obtaining a degree at Hofstra. The rest of the day was spent learning about their immigration status, the Center for University Advising and resources available to them through the Hofstra Portal. Sessions on student employment and fire safety were also offered. Later in the evening, interested students went over to the fitness center for some healthy fruits and fun activities.

On Wednesday, the new students got to find out about even more learning resources available to them through an Academic Success Seminar coordinated through the Center of Academic Excellence and a session on Academic Integrity coordinated through the Dean of the Honors College, the Writing Center and the International Student Affairs office. They also had the pleasure of having their first Hofstra class which was centered on the novel Topdog Underdog.  During lunch, the students had the chance to gather other useful information from the Resource Fair. The afternoon was filled with sessions on being healthy and safe as well as relationships in the U.S. Later in the early evening, all the new international students were invited to the International Student Welcome Reception, were they were given an official welcome address by the Vice President of Student Affairs, W. Houston Dougharty and Provost Gail Simmons and also got to meet faculty and staff members. Later that evening, there was an ice cream social, where interested individuals came to unwind in the game room. During this event, I got to bond with my mentees over air hockey, and ice-cream, which was an awesome experience.
On the last day of orientation, Global Mentors met up with their mentees who had not completed their checklist and later in the evening, there was an Alumni Panel, where past students came to talk about their experiences at Hofstra.
In general, the whole orientation turned out to be very successful and exciting, not just for the new students but everyone that was involved including myself. I got to make new friends, create memories and help out with so many little things, the whole experience turning out to be very rewarding for me. It can be very different at first as an international student, and this is something I know firsthand, as I am one myself. So I look forward to getting to know my mentees better and helping them out in any way I can.

Guest Blogger: Tamunomiesiya LongJohn, Global Mentor


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