[University of Winnipeg] Mentoring Students in Times of COVID19

International, Immigrant, and Refugee Student Services (IIRSS) have recently gone from in-person services to online, with a few challenges at first. They took the time to keep doing the important work of reaching out to students in Winnipeg and beyond. They are now running a mentoring program entirely online to continue providing expert advice to international students living and studying in Winnipeg and beyond.

Mentoring Program Overview

“Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada is making changes on almost a weekly basis, and we must update students with changing rules and regulations related to working in Canada, travel, and study permits,” she noted.

The new, entirely online mentorship came into play during COVID19 to continue fostering connections. Originally, the program was for assisting all first-year international students new to UWinnipeg. However, it’s now been changed to help students still overseas have an authentic university experience while taking courses online. Plus, it’s a great way for students to receive live advice promptly on anything from courses, to rental agreements and more.

Mentors and Their Services

Himal Parekh has been a mentor for two years. He is a third-year Faculty of Kinesiology student from Zambia. Also, he says joining the program was an easy decision. He, like the students he’s mentoring now, was once in the same position.

So, he’ll be advising his students online through platforms like FaceTime and WhatsApp throughout the spring term. Some of the topics he’s covering include “finding an apartment or showing them popular places around the city by sending them links online,” says Parekh.

In addition to personal Facetime and WhatsApp interactions, IRSS is hosting academic advising and immigration webinars twice a week. These webinars will target both international students in Winnipeg, and those who are not yet in Canada. These group webinars will feature content such as questions related to registration, degree requirements, and major requirements. Outside of academics, webinar hosts will be sure to update students on the changing rules and regulations for international students.

“People are used to the webinars now, so we will continue to offer it,” she said. “It was hard in the beginning to operate online, but we all got used to it and find it pretty convenient and time saving.”

In fact, the webinars have been so successful, IIRSS plans on continuing with them once everything returns to normal. Especially to reach students with concerns who aren’t yet in Canada.

Online Services – A Success

This pivot to online services from face-to-face by the International, Immigrant, and Refugee Student Services was a challenge, but shed light on amazing new services they could offer! Services that should and will continue after COVID19. Webinars and digital mentoring have been huge hits with current and prospective students as well as given greater flexibility and increased productivity amongst the team at IIRSS.

Read the original on: University of Winnipeg

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