When I first came to PSU, I was surprised that there were mentors for new international students. In Japan, we don’t have a mentor system in public schools. I didn’t even know what the a mentor was. After a few terms in PSU, I heard that the international student office was looking for more international students to be mentors. This program was not the same as the peer mentor program at PSU. The international student mentor program (ISMP) exists for new international students who come to PSU with student visas.
In the fall of 2011, I started my career in the ISMP, and had about 25 mentees. As a mentor for international students who may never have lived in foreign country, we need to be able to support new students experiencing cultural differences in personal and academic life. I remember that when I came to Portland, I wanted to know how to use public transportation, where I could find a Japanese grocery store, and where I could get second-hand furniture. But I was afraid to ask local people, because I lacked confidence in my English skills. I was very nervous and lonely.
Now as an ISMP mentor, I can contact via e-mail new students even before they come to Portland. This program provides many services, such as arranging for airport pick-up and short term homestay until the students can find apartments of their own. We provide information about apartments that accept international students as their tenants. We also provide resources about ethnic food stores, foreign language bookstores as well as give immigration help, cultural adjustment advisings, and tips for academic success as foreign students. ISMP not only support students, but also works as a cheerleader for students new to the U.S.