“We’ve been hearing in surveys that international students want to interact with American students more,” said Lana Seiler, administrative specialist for the International Students and Scholars Office. “This would assist them in adjusting to the culture and better their Iowa State experience.”
This mentoring program, which is starting out as a pilot group, is projected to consist of 10 groups of six next semester, with each group having two American students serving as mentors and four international student mentees.
Nya Deng, the GSB Director of Student Diversity, sees this program as a way to help ease the transition for international students and make them feel more comfortable at Iowa State.
“We’re hoping to ease the transition and introduce a new culture to them,” Deng said.
The program is the brainchild of former GSB Director of Student Diversity Lynnae Grandin, who passed the idea onto Deng, who has worked this semester with the International Students and Scholars Office to make the idea a reality.
“When students come into a new culture, some will be more ready to take charge and reach out, some will not,” said James Dorsett, director of the International Students and Scholars Office. “And this program will help students work through the questions they have.”
Deng along with Seiler and Dorsett approached GSB on Nov. 14 to acquire funding for a student coordinator who would run the program and recruit international and American students to participate. Dorsett and Seiler said having a paid student coordinator allowed for more accountability on that person’s part versus an unpaid coordinator.
The program is being funded $1,160 by GSB, which would pay the coordinator minimum wage, $7.25, with the International Students and Scholars Office looking into the option of paying the candidate an additional 75 cents per hour.
At the meeting they also tried to make their program part of the GSB bylaws, which would have enabled the group to acquire funding each year without having to go through Regular Allocations like other student organizations but the bill failed.
“The idea is that we can show that this is a viable program we might request of them a bylaw change later on to make it permanent,” Dorsett said.
Dorsett and Seiler say the program will improve the mentors and mentee’s culture experience and help create better global students.
“Whenever you’re dealing with someone from another country, they might cause you to question assumptions you have and possibly broadening your perspective of the world,” Dorsett said.