|Live and Study Abroad • Hong Kong
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This section is written in the perspective of the Host Schools as they are receiving incoming students. Nevertheless, you may also refer to the reciprocal section for Home Schools in the section for students Going from HK for ideas for Home Schools of students going to HK.
Roles and Responsibilities
As the host school or staff working at the host school; it is always a question what should be our role and responsibility. Are we their Buddies, Teachers, Guardians, Leaders, Baby-sitters, Bosses, or Monitors? I believe these are all what we are. We cannot be only a buddy or a monitor to incoming international students. We have to be all of the above at different times and in different situations. We cannot have only one or two roles all the times. We have to change and provide the specific support required for different matters. We can be students' buddy when we have a casual cultural-experiencing lunch together; but we will become their guardian in time of crisis. We will be their teacher when we taking them to a field-trip; but we are also their monitor when that happens.
Do not let students think you are just their buddy; and you will not be able to perform your duty later. Actually, you don't need to be anything. All they need to know is that you are someone that they can count on when necessary. If you can be impartial, professional, responsible, helpful and honest; they will respect you and listen to you no matter what they think you are to them.
On the other hand, have confidence on your international students. Trust them if they are given a free hand, they will shine and make the right decision. From time to time you may invite international students to participate in your school's program. If you want them to participate, believe in them. Let them develop their ideas, but advise them when necessary. Don't simply take them as workers. They want to participate not because they want to do whatever you told them to. They want to help, to enjoy school life and promote their own culture. They are not working for you. In fact, you are supporting them.
Be a Role Model
As someone who facilitates and promotes multi-cultural understanding, it is very important that we should be impartial and tolerant to cultural differences when we meet our international students. Even more, we should try our best and make good use of any opportunity to achieve our goal.
You may want to consider again if you should be working with international students if you say, HATE black people, gay people, Japanese, German, people with disabilities, Buddhists, pizza-delivery guy, for examples. You don't need to agree with certain behavior but you should not be intolerant about it at least. Our role is to let students to understand more about all kinds of differences existing in our world and then let them to decide what they can accept or cannot. It is not our role to tell them the answer.
Besides, we should be able to identify educational opportunity every time we meet our international students. Such as, when we have food together, when we walk on the street, and when we have a discussion on something. Whenever we notify some students being bias or says something inappropriate, we have the responsibility to advise him or her to think again; and explain to them why it is inappropriate. However, remember to be tactful and try not to harm the feeling of the student.
Whether it is for the international students or the local students, your school should have prepared a protocol in dealing with different critical situations. Such as: Delay of arrival, loss of property, illness, alcohol abuse, sexual harassment, assault, student arrested, missing person, financial difficulty, personal / family issue, and death.
Not only it will become very useful when the time comes; also it will show that your school is capable of handling critical situations and is a caring place for students and their parents.
Elements Should be Included in the Orientation Package
Different schools have different approaches. I am giving my example here simply because I am probably the first person ever in HK creating and providing a full orientation package to incoming international students - which is now being adopted by almost every university in HK.
Information of the host country and school - through official website, printed booklet, video introduction (viewable online), etc.
Enquiry contact - destined staff responsible for answering enquires in a timely manner
Social networking - Grouping of incoming students starting as early as 3 months prior to arrival. It has proved to be a very good way in building trust and sense of belonging among international students. Not only they will be able to know each other, realize they are not alone; but also they (and their family and school) will be able to know who are the responsible people from school early enough. Of course, it also serves as another mean for delivery of information and exchange of idea.
Peer support - Recruit experienced students (local or international) to provide peer support to new international students. At the same time strengthen cultural exchange and campus internationalization.
Airport Pick-up Service - Basic free pick-up services for the majority on arrival, supported by the peers.
One-stop Registration and Information Center - Arrange one-stop check-in, registration and information center for new international students. They can complete hostel check-in, student registration, course registration, orientation program registration at one single venue; where there are also staff and peers on duty to answer enquires.
Orientation Activities (Official)
Introduction of the host school, academic system, facilities, student life and support, etc.
Safety - Talks by legal enforcement authorities, embassies, etc.
Academic advising - Talks by individual faculty and departments
Orientation Activities (Un-official)
Shopping trips - For necessities, personal products, etc.
Site-seeing trips - City excursions, visit to popular tourist attractions, restaurants, etc.
Local experiences - Visits to unusual attractions, restaurants, etc.
Cultural immersion - Visits to public sites like museums, government bodies, cultural venues, etc.
Social gatherings - Supported by the peers, evening activities such as harbor tour, social drinking events, group activities, etc.
During the Study
Stay in touch with the home schools - Make sure they know that their students are enjoying their time here; and provide support when necessary.
Continue the support to international students - Keep helping them on their questions, providing opportunities for them to understand the local culture, encouraging student interactions, etc.
Create opportunity of engagement - Organize cultural sharing events and activities for international students to showcase their cultures; to promote study abroad in their home country and school; and facilitate opportunity for them to engage in the local community.
Encourage contribution - Ask international students to give feedback to your program and service; share their experience; and involve in the promotion of your school.
Stay in touch as much as possible - Try to stay in touch with the international students. They are now friends of you and you can understand their home country and school better through them. Besides, they will become good ambassador in promoting your country and school.
Stay in touch with the home school - Ask them if their students enjoyed their time in your country and school. Ask the home school to bring in more of their students!
Evaluation - Evaluate your program and services.
August, 2017 (Version 6.0);
since January 01, 2007
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