International Student Services is currently recruiting over 100 undergraduate students to be a part of a mentorship program that supports international students in their transition to the McMaster and Hamilton community.
Student mentors play an important role in creating a welcoming and inclusive community for students who need the extra support to better integrate into McMaster and Hamilton.
However, this way of bringing support for international students seems forced, almost like a course or a job might. The fact that students who are interested in mentoring and being a part of this program must apply for the role, as if it were a job, is an odd process.
According to an email that was sent by the McMaster Alumni Association to students, mentor interactions in the role would occur “through email, by phone, on social media and in-person beginning in June 2018 and ending in April 2019”.In addition, all volunteers would be expected to attend an in-person orientation and complete mandatory online training for the position.
Volunteers would also be expected to attend a few monthly mentorship events, where they would have an opportunity to connect with other mentors and international students face-to-face.
The position is available on OSCARplus and is considered a volunteer position that you would apply for. Although it is a volunteer position, the role has a process that seems a bit too formal for a program that is meant to help International students make friends and feel more comfortable at McMaster.
The fact that students who are interested in mentoring and being a part of this program must apply for the role, as if it were a job, is an odd process.
The main goal in running this program would be to help make a fellow student’s transition to McMaster a memorable one, though the process of qualifying for the role seems a little too formal to be accepted as a mere social relationship that is meant to be enjoyable and genuine.
I’m sure that if students wanted to help themselves get a better sense of the community, they would have paid for a tour to get a similarly formal and socially disconnected experience.
Given that that the incentive for applying would be to “make a positive impact on a student’s experience”, there could have been a more effective way of achieving the same goal and helping benefit students for volunteers who may be interested in applying for this position.
Though both the mentor and mentee would benefit in one way or another, the requirements and expectations on the mentor’s ends seem a bit forced and could have an effect on the mentee where they may feel like the mentor is only putting in the effort to meet the requirements of the mentor position.
This just puts both parties in an awkward position, whereas, if the position was merely a volunteer position that students would sign up as if they were volunteering for a club event, the experience may feel more genuine for all participants.
I am not saying that finding ways to help international students at McMaster integrate and create connection is a bad idea.
This program has all the right purposes and intents. However, the same purposes can be achieved simply by having a space for students to connect with other students or running events that would integrate both international students and other undergraduate students that are more familiar with the McMaster and Hamilton community.
Though the purpose of the ISS mentorship program is important and beneficial, the process could be seen as unnecessary for a program that focuses on having a positive impact on a student’s university experience.