Mentoring program gives international students opportunity to learn about American Culture

Brian Voss

An international student mentoring program on campus is giving international students the opportunity to be paired up with American mentors.

Paul Kyungjoon Chung, student coordinator for the program, said currently 28 mentors and 35 mentees are participating in the program.

Chung said some activities those participating in the program have done include playing sports, studying and having potlucks.

“The special thing was mentees were invited to mentors’ [houses] for Thanksgiving break to experience the Thanksgiving culture,” Chung said.

Chung also said there have been several full group events including ice skating, bowling at perfect games, an orientation and a final banquet.

He said the international students participating in the program were excited about the opportunity to have American friends.

“International students [at] ISU tend to just gather with themselves … and they are really having a hard time to break that ice,” Chung said.

GSB Director of Student Diversity Presha Kardile said the program gives international students a platform for them to interact with American students.

“When you come in as an international student, you don’t really have a lot of opportunities to interact with domestic American students, let alone juniors and seniors,” Kardile said.

Chung said the program was also beneficial to the mentors, including many who have studied abroad.

Kardile said the program is currently being funded by a combination of funds from the Government of the Student Body and the International Students and Scholars Office (ISSO). GSB pays for Chung’s position and also provides publicity and training materials. ISSO provides money for the banquet and other events.

GSB Vice President Hillary Kletscher called the program phenomenal.

“I have friends who are mentors and I know people who are mentees and talking with them about it and about how the program has worked. Some of them have formed great friendships through it, which is really exciting,” Kletscher said.

Kletscher said she believes GSB should continue to fund the program in the future.

“International students are like, 12 percent of our student body. So I really think this is an important thing to provide for international students to help them get acclimated to the culture of an American university,” Kletscher said.

Kardile also agrees it is important for GSB to fund this program. 

“GSB is focusing more on … recruiting students with diverse backgrounds to be on the senate or the executive cabinet so this is a really good way to promote GSB’s mission as well,” Kardile said.

Kletscher said that in the future she hopes somewhere other than GSB will be able to help fund the program.

“I think from the GSB perspective we’d like to see funding come from somewhere else and kind of have two people go in on it together. But it is an important service that we can provide for students,” Kletscher said.