Students from UC Davis and all around the world are coming together to form Global Ambassadors, a new mentorship program for international students set up by UC Davis Services for International Students and Scholars (SISS).
The Global Ambassadors consist of undergraduate students, many of whom have personal experiences with cross-cultural interactions. They serve as mentors to international students, helping them acclimate to their new academic and social lives at Davis.
“I once was an international student and will never forget the challenges as well as the incredible experiences,” said Moira Delgado, the outreach coordinator for Global Ambassadors, in an email interview. “UC Davis is very de-centralized and it can be daunting to navigate the various academic departments as well as student services. Both language and cultural differences can pose barriers and the Global Ambassadors have both the empathy and skills to assist international students.”
The motivation to help current international students comes from personal experience for many of the mentors.
“When I first came to Davis last year as an international student, I was really confused about the college school system in America,” said Jen Jung Hyun Park, a third-year economics major, international student from South Korea and current mentor with Global Ambassadors. “I always thought it would be really useful to have a mentorship program.”
Other members in the program, who are not international students, have had traveling experiences that inspired them to become mentors.
“I’ve spent a lot of time overseas and I’ve spent a lot of time looking at things from a different perspective,” said Global Ambassador and fourth-year neurobiology, physiology, and behavior major Sean Scott. “I’m very familiar with the way [the international students] feel.”
Global Ambassador Bianca Johnson first learned about the opportunity to be a part of Global Ambassadors while she was studying abroad.
“The idea of being a mentor was really exciting to me. My experience abroad gave me some familiarity with being unfamiliar in a strange new place and I wanted to be able to help others in that same position,” Johnson said in an email interview.
Mentors and mentees keep in touch every week and there are frequent activities for the international students to help them feel like Davis is their home away from home. Mentors are trained to use what they know to help the international students with any questions they may have about academics or life in Davis, in general.
“My mentors – Andrea Rivas and Jen Park render me great help. They spend a great deal of efforts on searching all the information of clubs, social events and useful courses for me, and they have even got office hours for their mentees — I truly appreciate it!” said Ka Sing Lee, an international student from Hong Kong majoring in economics, in an email interview.
Many Global Ambassadors feel that the mentor-mentee relationship is a mutually beneficial one.
“I think it is important to understand the mentee-mentor relationship. It really goes both ways and you can each learn from each other,” Johnson said.
Delgado believes that the program, though new, is off to a positive start.
“It is truly amazing to see the passion and compassion of the first cohort of Global Ambassadors and how much they have done so far,” she said.
Information about Global Ambassadors and how to apply to be a mentor next quarter can be found at siss.ucdavis.edu/globalambassadors.htm.
LAUREN MASCARENHAS can be reached at email@example.com.