This week we officially launched the International Student Connectors programme at Unitec. The purpose behind this programme is empower and guide International students to support other students during their study journey. This can be through volunteer opportunities, peer-to-peer support activities, to participating in on-campus events. We will also provide the students with ongoing professional and personal development during the semester and provide a certificate at the completion of the programme.
During the training session this week, the Student Support team lead by the wonderful Helena Finau spent time creating connections between the students (we learnt the group had students from East Timor, China, India, Indonesia, Thailand, Bangladesh…) and even got them all singing along to Lean on Me. Helena also spent time getting the students to reflect on issues around homesickness and cultural differences.
The first main activity the students will take part in is the upcoming International Student Orientation next week.
So why this programme?
- A recent Unitec survey (“U-Matter”) highlighted issues and concerns that were important to International students, including perceived lack of safety in Auckland, having greater opportunities to engage with other students, settling into life in NZ, to concerns around finding employment. The programme aspires to create connection in a meaningful way.
- The student voice is powerful! As staff, we can’t assume we know everything about what students want or need.
- Students want to make a difference. Not only do students want to be valued, they also want to SHOW value through their actions.
- Students gain experience, developing their skills and ultimately enhancing their career management competencies.
- Student services teams are flexing to reach a larger number of students. Programmes such as this allow for engagement greater numbers of students to participate.
- Stop. Collaborate and listen! So far it’s been awesome to collaborate with International Office and other student services teams. The term ‘more hands make light work’ rings true. In future we will be engaging with external organisations and collaborators.
The Developing and Supporting Student Leadership (DaSSL) framework tool was used to develop the Student Connectors programme, with the intention to review the pilot initiative at the end of the semester.