By EELENG CHER
New international students will now have a valuable resource to assist them through their first months in the United States, said Enoc Q. Flores, director of International Services.
The Peer Integrator program which started last Fall, pairs new international students with a peer — usually a BYU student volunteer who is a sophomore or higher.
“The Peer Integrator program facilitates the entry of new international students into the academic culture. Most of the universities in the United States are different from BYU. For many years, students were on their own. Now we have the resources to expand our services.”
The peers are encouraged to show their assigned students around campus, explain procedures involved in class registrations, banking, insurance and in particular — how to obtain their social security card and taking care of immigration details.
“Eventually, the goal is to assign the new students to their peers even before they arrive in the United States, so (that) there will already be someone to receive them at the airport,” Flores said.
One of the peers for Summer term is Elizabeta Jevtic, 21, a sophomore from Yugoslavia, majoring in chemical engineering. Jevtic said she met with her assigned student three to four times a week during the first two weeks of Summer term and recently, whenever her students want to meet.
“I think the program is helpful because when I first came to the United States, I was very confused and there was no one there to help me,” Jevtic said.
“The International Service Department should try to get someone who is really interested in the program and not someone who just wants something to be added on the resume,” said Sue Alvarenga, a new international student and a freshman from Sao Paulo, Brazil, with an open major.
“I just want someone to show me things that would be interesting for a foreign student and a Brazilian. You don’t want to go into culture shock straightaway,” Alvarenga said.
About 70 students have been involved in the program since January. Volunteers interested in the program can contact International Services at 378-2695.