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International Students Families in Unversity Context


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International Students Families in Unversity Context

  1. 1. International Students Families in the University Context An experiential journey of delivering a program Presenters: Shahana Islam and Juanita Hennessey
  2. 2. Origin of the Family Program <ul><li>Student based initiative (need for social support) </li></ul><ul><li>Summer program </li></ul><ul><li>Limited Funding </li></ul><ul><li>Creative use of facilities and resources on campus </li></ul><ul><li>Based on this initiative the ISA Office recognized the need for an ongoing organized program </li></ul>
  3. 3. Why a Family Program? <ul><li>International Students are looking for Global opportunities </li></ul><ul><li>Increasing number of International Students’ families </li></ul><ul><li>Newly arrived families are in great need for services regarding multiple issues and </li></ul><ul><li>a variety of challenges </li></ul>
  4. 4. International Student Population at Memorial University <ul><li>Students from over 90 different countries </li></ul><ul><li>International Students: 1070+ </li></ul><ul><li>Graduate students: 416 </li></ul><ul><li>Number of families: ~ 70 </li></ul><ul><li>New families Fall 2008: 18 </li></ul>
  5. 5. Purpose of the program <ul><li>Assist students and their families to settle into and adjust to an unfamiliar environment </li></ul><ul><li>To open venues for students spouses and their children to interact with each other and exchange information </li></ul><ul><li>Deliver integration assistance </li></ul>
  6. 6. Program Provides <ul><li>Two main objectives: </li></ul><ul><li>Initial settlement assistance </li></ul><ul><li>Ongoing activities and supports </li></ul>
  7. 7. Settlement Assistance <ul><li>Contact the family as early as possible( if possible before arrival) </li></ul><ul><li>Meet the student and family soon after arrival </li></ul><ul><li>Address immediate concerns (housing, banking, food, etc.) </li></ul><ul><li>Respond to immediate student concerns and answer inquiries </li></ul>
  8. 8. Settlement Assistance Continued <ul><li>Inquire as to student’s area of study and research related information </li></ul><ul><li>Inform students as to the different offices and services on campus </li></ul><ul><li>Provide information : supports are available for the spouse and children on campus (Daycare, ISA programs, etc.) </li></ul><ul><li>Share experience and knowledge to help ease transition (time management, asking direct questions, etc.) </li></ul>
  9. 9. The Reality : Challenges and Issues <ul><li>Student balances study, research and family life </li></ul><ul><li>Student’s lack of time can make spouse feel isolated and lonely </li></ul><ul><li>Reduction of income to run a family </li></ul><ul><li>Difficult to find time for household chores and family time </li></ul>
  10. 10. Impact of changes: <ul><li>Immediate shocks: geographical change, </li></ul><ul><li>speaking & listening only in English, missing native language, missing family and friends </li></ul><ul><li>New climate, loneliness and isolation </li></ul><ul><li>Unavailability of familiar foods, fresh vegetables, fruits, herbs, spices, etc. </li></ul>
  11. 11. Financial Balance <ul><li>Health insurance </li></ul><ul><li>High rent (housing) and heating costs </li></ul><ul><li>Daycare costs </li></ul><ul><li>Transportation </li></ul><ul><li>Expense of fresh groceries and milk products </li></ul><ul><li>Seasonal clothing </li></ul>
  12. 12. Ongoing Activities <ul><li>Meeting every 3 rd Sunday in a cycle </li></ul><ul><li>Discussion, play games, share information </li></ul><ul><li>Visiting local attractions </li></ul><ul><li>Entertainment </li></ul><ul><li>Sample different cultural food </li></ul><ul><li>Guest speakers </li></ul>
  13. 13. Ongoing Supports <ul><li>Encourage to keep contact through phone and email </li></ul><ul><li>Call and inquire as to their settlement and well-being </li></ul><ul><li>If needed, visit hospital, visit home or schedule a time for them to come visit the Family Coordinator </li></ul><ul><li>Respond to on-going issues </li></ul>
  14. 14. Building a bridge with the local community <ul><li>Assess the needs of individual families and match with appropriate resources </li></ul><ul><li>Inform as to programs and activities available off-campus </li></ul><ul><li>Publicize local community organizations </li></ul><ul><li>Encourage families to use these services </li></ul><ul><li>Invite people from various community services to provide information sessions </li></ul><ul><li>Build a support network among the families </li></ul>
  15. 15. Provide Integration Assistance <ul><li>Motivate families to participate in activities </li></ul><ul><li>Encourage families to ask questions </li></ul><ul><li>Share experiences, compare and analyze </li></ul><ul><li>Identify issues that can be modified </li></ul><ul><li>Maintain hopeful attitudes </li></ul>
  16. 16. Provide Integration Assistance <ul><li>Plan activities that promote positive thinking </li></ul><ul><li>Look at what can be done at present to help accomplish future goals </li></ul><ul><li>Inform families of possibility of future citizenship </li></ul>
  17. 17. Obstacles of program <ul><li>Families may live far away from the university </li></ul><ul><li>Transportation </li></ul><ul><li>Weather </li></ul><ul><li>Scheduling – finding a convenient time for most </li></ul><ul><li>Appropriate facilities – safe play areas, adult space, etc. </li></ul>
  18. 18. Future… <ul><li>Recently received considerable financial support from the provincial government through the Office of Immigration and Multiculturalism (Dept. of Human Resources, Labour and Employment) </li></ul><ul><li>Reevaluation and expansion of services </li></ul>
  19. 19. References <ul><li>Plett-Martins, V., & Grant, P. (2008). A needs </li></ul><ul><li>assessment of international students’ wives. </li></ul><ul><li>Journal of Studies in International Education, 12 (1), 56-75. </li></ul><ul><li>Urias, D. (2005, Mar – Apr.). Empowering the </li></ul><ul><li>disenfranchised: Supporting spouses of </li></ul><ul><li>international students and scholars. </li></ul><ul><li>International Educator, 42-47. </li></ul>
  20. 20. <ul><li>Feedback and Discussion </li></ul>