International Mentoring Program Unites EF and OU Students

That's me in the front with my protege, Max from Germany.

That’s me in the front with my protege, Max from Germany.

In July 2012, Oglethorpe partnered with Education First (EF), an international language provider that allows students to study language and culture in diverse environments around the world, including 14 North American cities. Atlanta is their most recent location.

As the cultural hub of the south, Atlanta is attractive to many international students and the educational and social opportunities in the city have created a surge of interest for EF’s Atlanta campus. Over the past year Oglethorpe’s campus has welcomed dozens of students from China, Germany, Venezuela, Korea, Honduras, and other countries all over the world.

EF protégés and OU mentors meet for the first time at orientation.

EF protégés and OU mentors meet for the first time at orientation.

In response, Oglethorpe has launched an international mentoring program to help provide a welcoming environment and encourage interaction between Oglethorpe and EF students. Led by Campus Life, the program pairs OU and EF students together with the goal of encouraging more opportunities to interact socially and a greater chance to learn from one another. Emmanuel Brantley ’15, an OU student organizer for the program, says “this program is very important because it provides the EF-Atlanta students with what they came to this specific location for—an interactive collegiate learning experience.”

This initial program pilot includes 11 pairs of OU student mentors and EF student protégés. I was paired with Max, a German native in the EF’s University Transition Program, and from our perspective, the pairs were well selected. We are already learning from each other about culture (especially sports) and language—I am studying German and Max is trying to master English. The program is successful in its goal to create more of an opportunity for friendship rather than feeling like a formal partnership.

EFLogo(2)(1)Each pair of students meets once a week to talk about classes and what’s happening in each others’ lives, and have been asked to journal about our experiences to present at the monthly all-member meeting.

EF Mentorship OrlandoDiego Cassy (2)Though these will be the only formal meetings, we’re already started to build networks of friends that are bringing together the EF and OU students. Max, my friends and I have planned trips to basketball games, whitewater rafting, and casual evenings to watch sports, and other partners are beginning to do the same.

The main goal of the program is to lead by example—that students in the program will be role models for mutual understanding about each others’ perspectives, cultures, and experiences. “The international mentoring program is an effort to unify the EF community and the traditional Oglethorpe community,” concluded program leader Robin Brandt, director of experiential learning “and we already have seen successes.”

For me, the program is an opportunity to become a more globally aware individual while simultaneously making my home and school a welcoming place for international students.

Oglethorpe’s Career Take Out: More Than Just a Meal!

Oglethorpe students practiced their networking skills a few weeks ago by participating in Career Take Out—three community dinners planned by the Alumni Office and Career Services. About 20 students participated in the events, along with alumni and staff members. The program connects students who are focusing on their job search and preparation with Oglethorpe alumni in similar career fields.

Alumni in Atlanta graciously opened their homes to students for small dinner parties, bringing everyone together in a friendly environment for good food, conversation, career advice and camaraderie. This year’s event focused on three specific career/majors:  English Communications, Pre-Law and undecided majors.

Janice McNeal ’97, a community volunteer and philanthropist, hosted the English/Communications group, along with Ashish Thakur ’99, executive director and CFO of The Indus Entrepreneurs of Atlanta, Megan Van Doran ’09, social marketing specialist for the InterContinental Hotels Group, and Danielle Hitchchock ’12, a marketing coordinator for the Heeney Company.

Deborah Lange ’03 , director of admissions for the Lovett School, and her husband Rocky Lange, a Financial Advisor for BB&T, hosted the Undecided group, along with alums Trevor Sheffield ’09, manager of marketing and customer relations at Geo Certs SSL, and Whitney Hockensmith ’09, customer service representative at Enterprise Fleet Management.

Joe ’91 and Andrea Shelton ’91 hosted the Pre- Law group. Joe is a partner in the Atlanta office of Fisher and Phillips LLC, and Andrea is an attorney and as well as president and founder of Heart Bound Ministries.  Alex Johnson ’07, an attorney at Gillis and Creasy LLC, and Bobby Baker ’79, a partner at Freeman, Mathis and Gary, also joined the group.

La Tasha Bellamy, a senior majoring in Communication and Rhetoric Studies, felt participating was well worth it. “Attending gave us the opportunity to connect with one another and meet new and such resourceful and amazingly talented people within our degree/career interests.”

Felisha Ellison, a sophomore studying Communication also enjoyed the evening. “I participated in the Communications Networking dinner and found it to be extremely rewarding,” said Ellison. “I learned much valuable information, and met many new knowledgeable contacts. Thank you so much for organizing and helping to provide this special event for Oglethorpe students. It was a wonderful opportunity!”

Look out for the next Career Take Out, planned for the spring 2013 semester!

Amy Clemente, MS, NCC is the Career Counselor at Oglethorpe’s Center for Experiential Learning.