Written by Elizabeth Soza/Contributing Writer
The Office of International Student and Scholar Services provides a special peer mentor program for new incoming international students.
“Coming from another country is a lot of culture shock,” said Andre Dawson, an International Student & Scholar Services coordinator at the Biscayne Bay campus. “The students come here and they don’t know their left from their right, it’s a totally different environment for them.”
For some of the international students feeling uneasy about their new environment, the International Peer Mentor program serves to help them settle into the university. According to Dawson, the Peer Mentors are a mixture of local students and international students. As a peer mentor, they help solve any concerns that the international student may have, as well as become a familiar face.
“The students sometimes don’t feel as comfortable coming us because we’re administrators, so we have a peer that they can reach out to and share some commonalities with so they can have their concerns answered,” Dawson said.
These peer mentors may answer pressing questions varying from immigration concerns to being directed to proper campus resources. New international students can request a peer mentor through the ISSS website. The peers and the program also can help the students see if they eligible for scholarships to help them pay their out-of-state tuition.
Dawson recalled his own experience of being dropped into a whole different culture. Originally from Jamaica, he came to the U.S. when he was 16 years old. He finished high school here and shortly after was accepted into FIU. He joined the International Student Club when he attended FIU as a student and he got to connect with other students and mentors. He saw the importance of seeking help and having guidance and gives any international student advice in not being afraid to seek help.
“Just seek out help, for some students it is a cultural thing to not receive help,” Dawson said. “But FIU is definitely a place where you can find someone that can get you the help you need.”
The Office of International Students and Scholar Services is located at both the MMC and the BBC campus. Their offices are open Monday through Friday, from 8:30 a.m. – 5 p.m. Their website is https://globalaffairs.fiu.edu/isss/.