|Maria Gomez (on the right), from Colombia, was the mentor for Lisa Chaiwut from Brunei. They are friends and sisters who can share everything with each other.|
Global UMD is a new podcast series for Spring 2015. Follow the episodes on the UMD Homepage.
Narrator Jiaxun Fan: This is Global UMD, presenting you stories about the diverse voices on the University of Minnesota Duluth campus.
Fan: When Lisa Chaiwut was still in Brunei, which is a small country near Malaysia, she already knew a lot of things about UMD, thanks to her Colombian mentor Maria Gomez.
Chaiwut: I had a lot of questions like "what should I do before I come," "how should I be like the culture," and "my books where do I buy them," "my accommodations, what do they include."
Fan: Both Chaiwut and Gomez were involved in the mentor and mentee program provided by UMD International Student Services (ISS). According to Kamila Xiong, the program coordinator of ISS, many friendships develop because of the program and both the mentors and the mentees grow as individuals.
Xiong: I think it benefits both social and the academic life. You are here for a reason, and so you have always to remember that purpose of academics is to earn your degree but you also have to remember that you are here because you realize that, “hey, I make friends and I network, and these are the people that I will be with for next couple years.” And so I think it is a great opportunity for personal growth.
Fan: At UMD, every newly admitted international student will be enrolled in the ISS mentor program with their permissions. Mentors are selected among current students who show interests in helping incoming students with their new life in the U.S. By comparing applications from both mentors and mentees, ISS match students by using their basic information and preferences. Sometimes, it is possible to have a mentor or mentee from the same country. Mudit Jain, from India, said it was great to be a mentor for Nirav Sharda, who shares the same language with him.
Jain: It is good to have a mentor from the same country cause, you know, you are on the same page already; it brings you a little bit towards home.
Fan: Like Maria Gomez, most of the mentors were mentees before. To repay the program and to also help new international students with her own experience, Gomez chose to become a mentor herself.
Gomez: When I got here, I had a mentor. She was like super, super helpful, but at the same time I still have like some questions, and I was like, “OK, I wanted to do, like, the same thing she did to me.” I really want guide them through all the process.
Fan: For most of the mentors and mentees, they have a really special relationship. In their words, “There is always someone out there for you no matter what.”
Jain: You have somebody to look up to. So if you are in a bad situation or anything, you can just contact that person, you know, and just ask him what to do and what not to do.
Chaiwut: Knowing all those little little things it helps settling down, and I don’t have to worry. If I have any questions, I can always talk to her and I don’t have to feel shy about it.
Sharda: It is completely true you have a person whom you can contact him in case of some needs. And you also get to meet the people who are in circles with the guy who is mentoring for you, and you get to know more people around.
Gomez: She is like my baby right here. I need to take care of her, I need to see that she is ok that she is doing good at school that she is doing good in her social life.
Fan: For more episodes of Global UMD, please check UMD news on our homepage. This is podcast Global UMD, and we tell you about many voices on our campus.
Listen to other episodes of Global UMD:
Podcast and story by Jiaxun Fan, April, 2015.
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