International Assistant Program
The purpose of the Merrimack International Assistant Program (MIAP) is to bring U.S. and international students together. The program fosters mutually-supported connections whereby international students become more involved and supported on campus and U.S. students are given opportunities to grow cross-culturally.
International Assistants will be asked to attend the International Student Orientation and the other International Programs office events during the semester. International Assistant will be given permission to move into their residence halls early.
What is an International Assistant?
Each incoming undergraduate international students is assigned to an International Assistant. Some International Assistants will be assigned more than one student. For some international students, this may be their first experience in the United States. Others may have studied or traveled extensively in the Untied States before. It is the International Assistant’s responsibility to adapt to the level of his/her student’s needs.
An International Assistant serves as:
- A friend and support - The most important way to help your international student is by being his or her friend. If this is your student’s first time in the United States, he or she may feel homesick from time to time or overwhelmed by the change of environment. Often, the new surroundings may appear strange and upsetting until the student feels more at home. At those times, your understanding and encouragement may be invaluable.
- A resource - Since you have already studied at Merrimack College for a year or more, you are familiar with how things work at the college and in the surrounding community. Your international student may have questions ranging from “What is the best pizzeria in the area?” to “Why do Americans act this way?” Your student may also need help in such matters as opening a bank account or buying clothes suitable for New England weather. Most of these questions can be easily answered by drawing on your own past experiences.
- A culture-sharer - Most international students come from countries whose cultures, customs, and values differ from those of the United States. The degree of difference will depend on the individual student and culture. It is your challenge, as an International Assistant, to be aware of the possibility that these differences may be present, and to be willing to explain occurrences from the American point of view. Remember, the American way is not the only way. You may find that many of the things you take for granted are peculiarly American, and may be viewed quite differently by people from other cultures. It will be your challenge to help your student understand those ways, so that he or she may readily adapt to life in the United States. Your international student will learn a great deal about American culture through everyday events. In helping your student understand the hows and whys of American life, you will come to a deeper understanding of yourself and of your own culture. Another important feature of the International Assistant Program is that you will also have the opportunity to gain an in-depth understanding of other cultures.
Commitment as an International Assistant
As an International Assistant you are expected to:
- Write an email to your assigned student(s) during the summer.
- Participate in all of the international student orientation activities including the campus tour and Welcome Dinner. If you are interested in serving as an International Assistant for a first-year student, please make sure you can be on campus when the international students move into their residence halls. (Dates to be determined.)
- Stay in contact with your international student, especially during the first few weeks of school when questions and confusion often arise. The International Assistant should continue to maintain contact with him/her throughout the year. It is the responsibility of the International Assistant to initiate these meetings, and to adapt to your international student’s particular needs and interests.
- Be willing to help any new international student who requires assistance, even if he/she is not assigned to you.
- Help organize and attend the International Assistant/Student educational and social activities throughout the year.
- Seek support from the Office of International Programs if you have concerns about individual students, particularly relating to cultural adjustment or personal issues. At times a situation that is distressing to a new student may become apparent to the mentor. While the mentor should not break a confidence, it is important that the Director of International Programs be made aware of problems or issues that may require intervention.
- Have fun! This program should be a rewarding experience for both students. This is a great opportunity to meet new students, enjoy social and cultural activities, and learn more about other cultures.
Senior International Assistants
Two returning International Assistant will be selected to serve as Senior International Assistants. Those who accept this placement are expected to:
- Provide leadership to IAs
- Work with Allison Gill to help streamline Orientation
- Check on attendance of IA’s and international students
- Should go on several airport trip to welcome students
- Work directly with the Graduate Fellow as well as the professional staff in the Office of International Programs in overseeing all aspects of the International student orientation.
- All other responsibilities of a International assistant
If you are selected to serve as an International Assistant for the Fall Orientation you will receive:
- $100 stipend
- Privilege to move on campus early
- All meals during orientation
- Free entry to any cultural activity
How To Apply
For Fall 2013: Due May 6, 2013
- Must be a sophomore student with good class standing
- A 1-2 page essay explaining why you think you would be a good fit for the International Assistant Program and what you think you would get out of it.
- A reference Letter from a Merrimack College Faculty or Staff Member OR be nominated by a Faculty or Staff Member.
When you submit your paperwork you will be asked to schedule an interview on May 6, 2013.