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Mentoring for International Freshmen

  • June 24, 2016
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Peer tutoring program for international students
Peer tutoring program for international students

Every year, Seoul National University admits an increasing number of international students. Compared to a typical freshman, these students are more likely to encounter various difficulties as they endeavor to transition into not only university life, but also a new cultural environment. SNU offers several programs to ensure that the students adapt to the campus as smoothly as possible. One example of such support is the School-life Mentoring Program (SMP), a semester-long mentoring system for international freshmen.

SMP is coordinated by the SNU Center for Campus Life &Culture, an organization that offers various counseling, psychological examinations, vocational tests and mentoring services for students in need of help. Every semester, SMP recruits approximately 15 juniors and seniors to act as mentors for 15 freshmen from abroad. Although a majority of the mentees are overseas Koreans who have completed primary and secondary education outside of Korea, some are foreign students admitted to the four-year undergraduate programs. SMP was created in 2010, and is currently in the process of selecting its thirteenth group of mentors and mentees who will be participating in the second semester of this year.

SMP mentors and mentees are expected to participate in a variety of mentoring activities throughout the semester. The most significant activity is the weekly one-on-one mentoring service, during which mentors meet with each of their mentees to help them familiarize themselves with the SNU campus as well as university life in general. Because SMP pairs each mentor and mentee by carefully considering their majors, interests and personalities, the mentors are able to provide appropriate help. The specific mentoring agenda, which is independently planned out by mentors, includes useful tips about academic majors, classes and campus facilities.

In addition to the one-on-one mentoring session, mentors also prepare and arrange group activities, preferably every week. In contrast to the individual sessions which are mainly about offering practical information customized for the unique needs of each mentee, group mentoring activities focus more on socializing and cultural exchanges among the diverse, international group members from all over the world. Group sessions include fun team missions, picnics at the Buddlegol grass field and Seoul tours. Further, the Center for Campus Life &Culture organizes a sports activity that SMP members participate with Campus Mentoring Program (CMP) members, which is the mentoring program for domestic students.

After one semester of participating in SMP activities, many mentees find themselves better prepared for the rest of their time at SNU. Mentors also have much to gain from SMP, especially from the many opportunities to interact with students from different cultural backgrounds and academic interests.

"SMP definitely provides international freshmen with helpful information and tips from senior students who are much more experienced in that they have already gone through the process of adapting to SNU," explained a senior student who recently served as a mentor."More importantly, mentees are able to meet other international students, with whom they can feel more comfortable sharing everyday thoughts and experiences. Along with help from mentors, freshmen find much emotional support from their fellow international mentees."

Written by YOON Jiwon, SNU English Editor, jiwonyoon@snu.ac.kr
Reviewed by Professor Travis Smith, Department of Asian Languages and Civilizations, tlsmith@snu.ac.kr

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