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Guiding students towards a better sense of understanding within their university life, from academics to extracurricular activities, is one of the primary goals of mentors, made pertinent by the rising numbers of international students. Integrating foreign pupils into internal structures would seem to be the ideal approach to helping students from abroad establish connections that would allow them to both feel welcome and comfortable in a new environment. However, a potentially high ratio of domestic to international advisers gives rise to questioning the origins of this misbalance and necessitates outlining some potential barriers that may exist for foreign guides. The unexploredness of the proposed topic creates an incentive for determining the numbers of international mentors and the difficulties that they face.
Statistics of Employment: Domestic versus International Mentors
Experienced international students could be the most common population group to participate in mentorship plans, with faculty members being present in a more guiding role. Taking Brown University as an example, 280 students were part of the 2017 International Mentoring Program (IMP). (“About the International Mentoring Program”). However, the IMP is only one of the seven programs provided by the university, which most probably furthers an imbalance between international and domestic guides, especially since the programs aim to connect like-minded students (“Mentoring and Professional Development”). The University of Oklahoma guidance programme demonstrated one of the most equalized numbers, with an 8 to 5 ratio of domestic versus international students (Young 55). On the other hand, Iowa State University states that they had 48 international to 12 national student mentors in 2013 (Young 51). This diversity in numbers allows theorizing that each university in the USA may create projects that provide conditions that are more favorable for either type of guides, but which are inevitably constrained by their students.
Reasons for Lower Employment Rates for International Mentors
There may be various reasons for a decrease in the number of international mentors, especially as one advances within the education profession, from a potential faculty bias to a simple lack of foreign custodians. Microaggressions and favoritism within universities may hold back the creation of affirmative mentorship programs, even among students (Hsieh and Seshadri 126). Additionally, guides, foreign as well as domestic, may be unwilling to share their experience or provide adequate guidance based on a fear of being replaced (Jones 64). Finally, the creation of an international body of mentors is only possible when students from abroad are present and enrolling, and a lack of such pupils curtails any such plans (“About the International Mentoring Program”). Furthermore, an essential detail is the possible feeling of “resentment among local faculty,” which overqualified foreign advisors may stimulate, even among students (Altbach and Yudkevich 6). Thus, a system of international guides relies on a wide variety of factors, most of which center on demographics but also the departments’ individual predispositions towards students.
The idea of America as a meeting place of cultures remains an essential aspect of every-day university life that various circumstances oppose, which in turn creates unfavorable conditions for international mentors. A lack of representation in faculties obstructs the creation of genuinely inclusive experiences for domestic and international students, especially in small institutions, for example, Brown University. Negative student experiences only help further advance this closed loop, the breaking of which requires addressing issues such as bias and negativity in faculties, as well as the admission of qualified international students.
“About the International Mentoring Program (IMP).” Brown, n.d., Web.
Altbach, Philip G., and Maria Yudkevich. “International Faculty in 21st-Century Universities.” International Faculty in Higher Education: Comparative Perspectives on Recruitment, Integration, and Impact, edited by Maria Yudkevich, Taylor & Francis, 2016, pp. 1-14.
Hsieh, Alexander L., and Gita Seshadri. “Promoting Diversity and Multicultural Training in Higher Education: Calling in Faculty.” Promoting Ethnic Diversity and Multiculturalism in Higher Education, edited by Barbara Blummer et al., IGI Global, 2018, pp. 112-131.
Jones, Marion. “The Balancing Act of Mentoring: Mediating between Newcomers and Communities of Practice.” Mentoring in Education: An International Perspective, edited by Cedric Cullingford, Routledge, 2016, pp. 57-86.
“Mentoring and Professional Development.” Brown, n.d., Web.
Young, Nancy E. Seeking Best Practices for Integrating International and Domestic Students. International Student and Scholar Services, 2014.