Compass Program: Community Mentoring for PSU International Students
Learn more about our Compass Program.
Learn more about our Compass Program.
The Compass Program is a unique mentoring program which matches international students with mentors who are retired professors, artists, and other professionals, 65 years or older, who are willing to share their knowledge and experience with Portland State international students. Frann Grossman, a graduate student in the Applied Linguistics TESOL program, designed this program as part of her final thesis project. Her vision was “to promote world peace and intercultural understanding by providing personal opportunities for Portlanders to mentor and befriend international students at Portland State University, thereby encouraging the continual development of internationalization on the PSU campus and in the great Portland area.”
The Office of International Student and Scholar Services, under Ms. Grossman’s supervision, collaborated with Dr. Jost Lottes, the director of the Senior Adult Learning Center and a former international student, at Portland State University’s Institute on Aging to give this wonderful opportunity to our students. Community mentors can show PSU international students “the real Portland,” for example: accompany students to sporting events, to Pearl District craft shops, art galleries, museums, concerts, and even to the beach. They can ride bikes, discuss politics, go to movies together and practice their English in a non-academic environment while gaining an important and personal cross cultural experience. Furthermore, international students can see an American life from a very different perspective.
Gaofeng Yang, a mentee from China, shared one of his most memorable experiences with us. At the beginning of spring term, Gaofeng was rejected by a graduate department he was interested in. He also did not receive a very important scholarship that he was relying on. Life was a little stressful at the time for Gaofeng. He shared his terrible news with his mentor – Peter. “When Peter heard all of the bad news from me, he invited me to his house for dinner, he shared a lot of both sad and happy stories with me, and I also told him my dream for the future. Then I suddenly realized that Peter was not only sharing his stories with me, but was encouraging me not to give up that easily, telling me that life does not always go smoothly without any hitch. I also realized that I am not always alone when life does not go well, and there is always someone there willing to support me and encourage me no matter what happens.” Soon after that, Gaofeng was accepted to another department at PSU. He will start his master’s program in the fall.
Peter H. Reader, Gaofeng’s mentor, also shared his experience of participating in this mentoring program. Mr. Reader said that when he first met his mentee, Gaofeng invited him to participate in the International Student Coffee Hour. He was introduced to students from various countries such as China, Japan, Korea, Saudi Arabia, France, Vietnam, and Nepal. He thought to himself, “I saw a rainbow — so pretty in the room —faces of reds, yellows, whites, browns, and blacks. Youngsters from every continent (well, maybe not Antarctica) enjoying themselves. Muslims, Christians, Hindus, Jews, Buddhists, Shintos, Pagans; perhaps even an agnostic or atheist. Nevertheless … Lots of laughing, talking, high fives, low fives, fist bumps, hugs, and handshakes all over the place. I thought to myself, they are really saying, I love you. This is how it should be. This is how it could be. This is how it must be. What a wonderful world.” Just like the Louis Armstrong’s song, “What a Wonderful World.”
We hope to offer this unique opportunity to many international students who will appreciate our elder mentors who have so much to share!
*The Compass Community Mentoring Program will run from January to May 2012.
Please click here to download the mentee application form.
Please click here to download the mentor application form.