By MOE IRISH
Studying abroad can be an enlightening, yet overwhelming experience, particularly in the beginning. Adjusting to the physical and cultural differences can be a challenge. Add some possible language barriers into the mix and it is a potential cocktail for stress.
Luckily for the exchange students starting here this spring, Pima has launched a program to help smooth the transition for many of our new classmates.
The program is called Global Peers and is comprised of Pima students, most of which have been exchange students to some degree themselves. The Peer in Global Peers actually stands for positive, engaging, educational resource.
Each Global Peer plays the role of a mentor are and is responsible for three to four students from various countries.
Though Sheila Solis Arroyo has recently transferred to the University of Arizona, she is a volunteer in the Global Peers Program because she gets to work directly with international students who expose her to new ideas and culture.
“My favorite part is that it’s fun and global peers provides an easy transition for friendships to be made. It also helps international students feel welcome in a place they may have never been to before,” Sheila said.
This semester alone, students from China, Iran, Palestine, England, Saudi Arabia, Vietnam, the Philippines and many others made up 34 different countries represented amongst the Pima student population.
The mentors met the students on Jan. 16 and there was an in-depth, two-day orientation process to prepare the international students for their time here.
The students learned about Pima’s policies and procedures, as well as ways to enjoy the fun side of life in America, like shopping and bowling.
Christian Dorado said bowling was his favorite part because it got everyone together and though the game was really competitive yet really supportive.
“The rest was good, but getting away from the college and all of the other stuff was better,” Christian said.
Peers and students spent the afternoon of Jan. 17 on a private bus taking a tour of Tucson, exploring the new outlet mall and ending the day at Fiesta Lanes with pizza. Many of the students had never bowled before and did quite well.
The Global Peers extend their helping hands to the ESL students as well, who participated in the same activities the following week.
Throughout the semester, the members of the Global Peers program will be expected to stay in touch with all of the exchange students on a regular basis. The mentors are there to take them under their wing and help them make the most of their time here in the United States, as well as make the most of their Pima experience.
The program gives the new students a chance to make friends right off the bat, surrounded by new and familiar peers. It’s like a whole intercultural “melting pot” in itself, providing an enriching experience for everyone involved.
If you want to be involved in a Global Peer program next semester, or have interest in volunteering contact Daisy Rodriguez Pitel in the International Student Services office at 206-6732 or firstname.lastname@example.org.