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.

OU Student, Aspiring Ambassador Invited to Speak to Atlanta International Students

anwar

Anwaar Abu Shugair ’16

Every year the Atlanta Ministry for International Students hosts a welcome reception for international students who are studying in Atlanta. This fall’s 36th annual reception was held at Spelman College and Oglethorpe’s own Anwaar Abu Shugair ’16, a native of Jordan, was invited to address the hundreds of students who are making Atlanta universities their temporary homes this year.

The reception is open to all international students in Atlanta, making it a massive gathering of cultures where everyone can mingle, eat international foods, enjoy a performance by the Atlanta Opera, and meet “amigo families”—American families who open their homes to international students during the holidays. Anwaar was a part of the delegation welcoming the students to the U.S. and Atlanta.

amisEstablished in 1978 by local churches and the Presbytery of Greater Atlanta, AMIS was created to encourage connections between Atlanta natives and international students to make their stay as comfortable and memorable as possible. Anwaar, who was a part of the program as a new international student last year, says that it had helped her to integrate into the American culture, which is drastically different from her own, she says. Anwaar especially enjoyed “getting to eat the turkey and pies on Thanksgiving” surrounded by new friends. As a result, she found it easy to feel comfortable in America and she quickly settled in and made a home of Atlanta and Oglethorpe.

Anwaar knew Oglethorpe would be the right place for her ever since she first started reviewing her options for universities with her school advisor in Jordan. Her high school, King’s Academy, promoted mastery of both English and Arabic, global citizenship, and boasts a world class liberal arts curriculum. This perfectly prepared her for an institution like Oglethorpe, which is rich in cultural life and the liberal arts. The size and the ratio of students to faculty here ensured her that she would not feel overwhelmed by being suddenly surrounded by thousands of students in a new country, and the curriculum was perfect for her career aspirations.

Anwaar is double majoring in Politics and Economics, and hopes to earn a master’s degree in the U.S. before returning to Jordan to possibly complete a PhD program there. One day she would like to be a diplomat, perhaps even the Jordanian ambassador to the U.S. She is already accumulating ambassadorial experience here at Oglethorpe through working in the Office of Admission and in the Academic Success Center as a tutor.