The life of a new graduate student is tough. Between advisors, lab meetings, and adjusting to a new town—not to mention classes—the shift from undergrad to a PhD or Masters program can be a daunting one. For international graduate students, cultural differences complicate this transition.
The International Graduate Mentoring Program (IGMP) is the newest group officially recognized by the Graduate Student Council (GSC). Led by graduate students Ana Draghici and Marcella Lucas, the IGMP serves as a vital ‘first contact’ for students coming to Dartmouth from other countries.
“The idea is for mentors to introduce new graduate students to different people, and invite them to events and outings to help integrate them into the Dartmouth community. Hanover gives the allure of a small town that doesn’t have much to offer, but there are actually so many things going on,” says Draghici.
International graduate students account for 30% of the total graduate population at Dartmouth. For the 2011-‘12 academic year, there are approximately 120 incoming international graduate students from 17 different countries coming to Dartmouth, and 70% of these students have never studied outside of their home country.
This year, the IGMP assigned ‘mentors’ to each incoming international student. These mentors come from a variety of backgrounds and nationalities—including the United States—and help welcome international students the moment they first arrive on campus.
“It can be an overwhelming experience when you first arrive to the U.S.,” says Marcella Lucas, co-leader of the IMGP. “Having a friendly face to greet you at the bus stop in Hanover and help you to your new apartment after a long international flight is something small that IGMP mentors do that really helps these new students.”
The group held their first event, ‘Monday Night Tea’, on Monday, September 12th, at 7pm in One Wheelock (the event space at the bottom of Collis). The event was well attended, and ‘Monday Night Teas’ will continue to be a monthly opportunity for students of different backgrounds to meet each other, and to taste desserts and teas from other countries. The event is open to all graduate students at Dartmouth, as well as their friends and families.
In addition to the monthly dessert meetings, the IGMP will host receptions before larger GSC social events. Stressing that “all are welcome” at IGMP events, Ana says that the aim of these events is to provide a cocktail hour alternative to larger parties, which help facilitate new conversation and friendships.
“We want to put on celebratory events that integrate the graduate community, not separate graduate student populations,” says Ana.
For more information on the International Graduate Student Mentoring Program (IGMP), visit their Facebook group.
by Erin O’Flaherty