IEC’s coffee breaks are available to IPM members as well as to all students

The International Education Centre provides a space for students to communicate with each other
Photo: Zhiqi Zhou
Leah Grimes, international student integration full-time support, explained the IPM program.

Algonquin College’s International Education Centre hosted a coffee break on Feb.15. This coffee break provides an occasion for members of the International Peer Mentors program to network and help each other, and any interested students are welcome to attend.

The IPM program is open to all Algonquin College students. This program is designed to help students help each other, especially for international students who are coming to Algonquin College for the first time.

“IPM is designed to enable senior students to help incoming students better acclimatize and access the school’s resources, and to provide some help with life, but not with academic things,” said Fotina Cao, an intercultural programming support assistant.

“The basis of the IPM program is to bring new students into our community,” Leah Grimes, international student integration full-time support staff, said. “I think the barrier for new students coming here is that in a new place, at a new school, they don’t quite have an ‘in’ to join the community and make friends, so this is like a kind of an easy way to make some friends, and be invited to an event.”

It is easy to join the program, and every year new international students receive an email asking if they want to join. Students who are Level 2 and above can apply to be mentors, while Level 1 students can apply to be mentees.

“Applications happen before the beginning of the semester because we try to match up the mentors and the mentees before the semester starts so that the mentees have somebody to connect with, because they are Level 1 students, the transition can be easier,” said Grimes.

Grimes also said they are updating their webpage because the information on the website isn’t very detailed right now. However, they will be posting on social media and connecting with future students in other ways.

Mentors and mentees do not have mandatory work requirements. Sometimes the program’s leader will release questionnaires to mentors and mentees to see the feedback between the two sides.

“The contact between mentees and mentors depends on how often and how they communicate with each other, mostly through emails and WhatsApp group chats, if there are difficult questions they have a peer list to ask, and we also publish surveys to ask about their communication with each other,” said Cao.

The coffee breaks are a great way for mentors and mentees to get together and talk to each other, and all interested students are welcome to join in.

Grimes said: “Coffee break is a good opportunity to bring everybody in the program together, but it’s open to everybody on campus, is not just for the program.”

Charmy Modi, a Level 1 student in the fitness and health promotion program at Algonquin College, saw the coffee break on the IEC events calendar and came to attend.

Modi said, “I came to this event because I wanted to meet more people and make new friends, I’m from India but I know very few Indians at school.”

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