For over a year I have been developing a volunteer peer mentoring scheme for International Student Support to help new international students settle into life in the UK, meet new people and improve their language skills.
I am also a part-time Master’s student in Coaching and Mentoring and I had the idea while doing some volunteer work with international students. I recently achieved Platinum Hallam Award for my volunteer work.
In my spare time I have been mentoring four mentees from different countries – Vietnam, Malaysia, Hong Kong and India, with the aim of helping them to socially integrate into the university community. I have really enjoyed the experience, learning more about different cultures, widening my understanding of issues faced by international students and facilitating their positive transition.
We launched a small pilot in September 2013 to April 2014 for 44 students, which involved matching each mentee with a mentor from a different country.
Being mentored by someone from a different country can enhance your understanding of your own culture by helping you to notice and question things you might normally overlook. I believe cross-cultural mentoring is a fantastic way for you to develop your cultural intelligence, which will not only help you settle into university life, it will also help you to build positive working relationships in the future.
The scheme will be launched officially in the new academic year and we will start recruiting mentors and mentees from September. All current students can apply to become mentors, including home students. We encourage students who have taken part in extracurricular activities to get involved.
Mentoring is a two-way learning relationship, described by participants on the pilot as ‘learning through sharing’. Both mentees and mentors reported improving their cultural awareness, time management and communication skills. As well as gaining valuable experience for their CV.
‘Culture Connect is one of the best schemes being offered by Sheffield Hallam University for new students in Sheffield. I advise all new students to join this scheme.’ Sohaib Hassan, Mentee from Pakistan, MSc Applying Physiotherapy
View a selection of student case studies from the pilot project.
More information about the scheme will be added to the Facebook page soon.