September 21, 2020

BY CASEY SCHELLENBERGER
International Student Services, in partnership with a group of project management students, has begun a campaign to gauge student interest in a mentorship program for international students.
“We know that if they assimilate quickly that they tend to have more success,” said Jan Bockmaster, manager of support services at the International Education Office. “And it’s all about wanting to give them as many tools as we can for them to be successful.”
The program, called iMENTOR, is meant to help international students adjust by giving them “a buddy, someone who can help make coming to a new country less scary and make new friends,” according to Bockmaster.
The project management students, going by the name iTEAM, are helping International Student Services launch the program as part of their final assignment.
On Nov. 7, they had a recruitment booth where they handed out brochures about the program to students.
“We’re looking to sign up students who want to be mentors and mentees,” said Beniboba Briggs, a project management student and member of iTEAM. “We’re looking to sign up 10, for now, for the first phase … It’s kind of a test run.”
iTEAM also conducted a survey to determine whether there is an interest in a mentorship program, how long the program should run and what students would want to do if they were a mentor.
Bockmaster said, “So we don’t have that 100 per cent finalized, we’re really still fact-gathering.”
“For sure January we’ll have a solid program in place.”
There are several criteria for students interested in mentoring an international student. They must be going into their second or higher year at Conestoga and have a minimum GPA of 2.0.
Students who express interest in being mentors will then be invited to an information session, happening at the end of November.
International students must be in first year and express an interest in having a mentor when they are accepted into the college.
“When students get our acceptance letter saying, “Hey, you’re accepted to Conestoga, here are some tools and tips for being successful when you get here” … it will also say, “Would you be interested in having a mentor?” Bockmaster said. “We’re not just going to assume you want a mentor if you are an international student.”
The booth isn’t student’s only chance to express interest in mentoring an international student.
“(The booth) is sort of a first step,” Bockmaster said. “We’ll be doing more promoting and recruiting of students.”