In 2007, the International Programs Office started the International Student Mentor (I-Connect) Program to help ease the adjustment process of incoming international students and Third Culture Kids (TCKs) into the Puget Sound community, and provide opportunities for Puget Sound students to gain new cultural experiences without leaving campus. The program allows for a mutually-beneficial relationship, in which both the new and current students learn from each other. The program provides an opportunity for the students to connect through various social activities and events, creating a strong and supportive community. At the beginning of each academic year, the program pairs an incoming international student/TCK with a current Puget Sound student, who will be responsible for providing him/her with information, support and guidance to help him/her succeed academically and socially. The incoming international student/TCK is expected to share insights into his/her home culture with the partner. Puget Sound students will engage in cross-cultural interactions and friendships through the I-Connect Program.
Feelings of alienation can severely restrict the ability of international students and TCKs to become active and independent members of Puget Sound. In many cases, international students and TCKs are unable to develop the intellectual and personal curiosity to their full potential due to the lack of peer support network. International students and TCKs face specific issues that our domestic students do not, and the I-Connect Program is committed to cooperating with International Programs to address these issues. Partnerships formed through the program greatly aid international students and TCKs in acclimating to life in the U.S. and at Puget Sound through regular meetings, social activities, and events.
The importance of the program is clear not only for the international students and TCKs, but also for the current students themselves. Rather than simply reading about people from different cultures in classes, I-Connect Program provides an opportunity for domestic students to get to know and become friends with a person from another country whose life experience has most likely been vastly different from the domestic student’s experience. Moreover, the international students and TCKs are an asset to our campus as a whole in the diverse perspectives they provide for everyone who interacts with them. The international students and TCKs bring new ideas, perspectives and cultures to our university, contributing to the recruitment and retention of more international students and TCKs an important aim for Puget Sound.
Participating in the I-Connect Program is an excellent way to support the international community at Puget Sound as well as a great chance to learn about other cultures. The I-Connect Program looks for students who exhibit leadership skills and have a strong desire to work with the international community.
You can refer to Frequently Asked Questions of our past applicants for further information. For any comments or additional questions, please contact the I-Connect Program Coordinator or International Student Advisor. Keep checking our website for updates and announcements.