For Minnesota State University, Mankato International Students, moving to a new country to attend a school can be a terrifying experience. It can be hard to meet new people, build connections, and find opportunities within the community. Now, imagine all those obstacles for these students placed with the added stresses of COVID-19.
The Mav2Mav peer program was started at the beginning of COVID-19 to help reach out to international students who might have been struggling during this troubling time.
“The purpose of peer leaders is to reach out to the students and ask them if they are having any trouble during the pandemic,” said MNSU senior Arnavee Maltare, who is also the Student Government Vice President. “We also want to provide them with all the resources they may need.”
Peer leaders message their assigned students each week and follow up with how things are going for them and if they need any source of help. They answer questions international students may have throughout the semester, update them about different ways to get involved around our community help them find a welcoming community.
Mav2Mav program participants are typically assigned mentors who hail from geographically similar regions. Mav2Mavs also makes mentors sign a confidentiality agreement. This is so students can build a connection with their mentor and feel comfortable to open up about problems they may be facing as an international student. The mentor is a person to be there to help them through those issues they may be having.
Maltare pointed out, “I would encourage students to share if there are any problems they are experiencing or any suggestions they might have because this program was created to make sure that students share the issues they are seeing. Right now is a hard time and we’re all in this together. There are resources you just don’t know about and a lot of students don’t reach out.”
The Mav2Mav Peer Program is currently looking for more students to become peer assistants in order to help mentor more international students. If you are interested in applying, be sure to reach out to the International Center on campus.