South Ural State University pays much attention to working with international students. The SUSU International Office helps them integrate into new cultural environment. To achieve that, for the second year now, the International Office together with the Association of International Students have been working on the project of student support and adaptation.
Before the academic year begins at SUSU, a new team of tutors has been recruited, which comprises mentors from among the university students who help foreigners through their first stages of adaptation in an environment new for them. This week a scheduled meeting has been held, where the organizers reminded the tutors of and shared with them on the peculiarities of working with international students: on the possible pitfalls, specifics of each culture, and the administrative aspects of work.
“Both Russian and international students could be doing this work if they are open to share their experience and help students who have just come to Russia. We try to involve as many international students as possible, as their can use their own experience as an example to demonstrate that things are not that scary, and you won’t be left alone with your problems. Last year, it was a pilot project, and we realized that this is a huge and invaluable help to us. And we can already rest assured that international students will find solid support in our tutors,” shares Head of the International Student Support of the International Office Ekaterina Yurovskaya.
The team of tutors works only with freshmen, starting from the moment when they come to us and all through their primary adaptation. Last year, 500 international students came to SUSU, and this year we are expecting about 700 people. As these numbers grow, the school of the tutors expands as well.
“I’m a volunteer, and I like helping foreign people. Together with the team of other volunteers, we often participate in international events, where we can master our language skills. So, I decided to become a tutor because I can help, and I wouldn’t miss this opportunity,” notes SUSU student Viktoriya.
The majority of international students coming to Russia do not speak Russian, know nothing about life in Russia, or about its culture and climate. Most often, these are students from African, Arab, Latin American countries and China. Most of the tutors speak English, but of special value are those who speak Chinese, as the majority of the Chinese students, who come here, do not speak any other language but their mother tongue.
“A foreigner coming to Russia is like a child, and a tutor is like a Mom or a Dad to him/her,” explains President of the South Ural Association of International Students Uvindu Wijeweera.
Among the tutors’ main responsibilities are to greet students at the airport or the railway station, register them, help them with the accommodation at a dormitory, take them on a tour around SUSU, and help students buy SIM cards and other goods of prime necessity. Often tutors need to know the answers to questions on where to buy specific foods, typical of this or that foreign country.
Besides Russian students, international students also work as tutors and happily share their experience on studying at SUSU and adapting in Russia.
“Last year, the International Office launched the tutor program for international students. I believe that this is a very important program, as when I first came to Russia 5 years ago, it was really difficult for me to understand everything on my own. Now I can see that a tutor becomes the first friend for a foreign student here. And the way the international students see Russia for the first time directly depends on the tutors’ contribution. What I’m most happy about is that a couple of months after this formal student-tutor relationship is over, guys keep up their warm communication and become good friends,” adds Uvindu.
The International Office intends to continue developing this project further, and welcomes all those willing to help to join the team of the tutors.
Join the tutors’ team: https://vk.com/susu_tutors