Every year, the George Washington University is home to approximately 4,200 international students from more than 130 countries. Our pursuit to become a global institution, combined with the unique location and #OnlyAtGW educational opportunities, attract students from every corner of the world, who journey across the earth to find their next chapter at GW.
However, while the educational and professional resources are abundant, the international students community often faces challenges in cultural integration and campus engagement. The initial language barrier as well as cultural differences prevent them from accessing adequate support, and often times making the transition even more difficult.
During the 2018-2019 academic year, student leaders from the International Students Association (ISA) and the Student Association (SA) come together to explore innovative approaches where we can collectively support the student experience of our international peers. The partnership led to the creation of the International Friendship Portal, a platform that seeks to connect international students to peer mentors at GW.
The International Friendship Portal (IFP) provides a social platform for international students at GW to form connections, to better adjust into a new environment, and to encourage greater cohesion within the GW international community. Our goals include the following:
Assist with transitioning and mental well-being for international students in their native language.
Provide insights and advice in terms of students organizations, classes, internship/job experiences.
Connect new students with friend groups and communities, or provide networking when opportunities arise.
HOW IT WORKS
Peer Advisors are current students who came from an international background, and are fluent in a language other than English. Mentors are selected on a volunteer basis, and trained by professional staff in the Colonial Health Center. While Peer Advisors are available to provide personal support and advice, they are unable to give legal resources, and will direct students to the International Services Office.
Through the online portal, students can find a full list of Peer Advisors and their weekly availability. Students can reach out to the them using the contact information provided on the portal and schedule a meeting that works best for them.
The International Friendship Portal is open to both undergraduate and graduate students at GW.