Xavier students cut summer short, return early to help others

Interlink program creates mentors to help new international students adjust to campus, country | August 18, 2003

Nearly two dozen Xavier students are cutting their summer vacations a week short and returning to campus early to help the University's incoming international students adjust to college, campus and life in America.

As part of Interlink, an international peer-mentoring program, 22 students are serving as mentors and helping new international student through orientation, showing them around campus, taking them shopping for necessities and helping them adjust to life at Xavier and in the United States.

Now in its second year at Xavier, the Interlink program is a national program founded in 1995 and sponsored by a grant from NAFSA: Association of International Educators.

"The program is intended to bring both sets of students together in order to encourage greater involvement on the part of international students in the U.S. experience, as well as to offer to the American students opportunities for cross-cultural growth," says Kathy Hammett, the University's director for international student services.

But mentors are not only American Xavier students. Gaby Jonatan, a senior native of Indonesia majoring in computer science, was inspired to join Interlink as a mentor after her own orientation.

"As an international student at Xavier, I totally understand the feeling of being the new member of a campus, a community, a country," she says. "Being able to help other international students, I feel like my understanding of different countries increases."

This year Xavier students will mentor approximately 30-40 of their new international peers on campus. The international group includes incoming freshmen, English as a Second Language students and graduate students. The students come from a variety of countries, including Kenya, Germany, Japan and Jordan.