This August, the International Office welcomed over 75 new sponsored students to UT Austin, in addition to 17 participants in our Foundation Year Program – a college preparation and acculturation year for top-achieving international students. Meeting new people has always been a vital part of the college experience, and the Foundation Year students kicked off the fall semester by pairing up with UT student mentors at a meet-and-greet on September 23rd. The Foundation Year students and their new mentors mingled and chatted with each other at the Texas Union Underground over pizza and a few rounds of very competitive glow bowling.
This is the first year in the Foundation Year Program’s history that the mentorship program has been initiated during the fall semester. But because Foundation Year students have consistently rated connecting with UT students as the highlight of their experience in Austin, the team worked hard to launch a year-long program this fall. In doing so, we hope to facilitate wider engagement with the UT Austin community and provide opportunities for FY students to have meaningful interactions and cultural exchange with UT undergraduates. Four UT students who volunteered as mentors last spring returned to participate in the inaugural fall program, showing that the impact of the mentorship lasts beyond the end of the semester!
Through this expansion of the Foundation Year Mentorship Program, both FY students and their undergraduate mentors will benefit from valuable learning experiences outside the classroom. Not only do these programs allow FY students to meet college students and have fun, but events like the meet-and-greet allow students to learn from each other’s views, cultures, and beliefs. UT undergraduates that volunteer as mentors will also receive specialized leadership training, making them better mentors and giving them key skills for the future. The interactions between these students provide an excellent way for UT and Foundation Year students to gain a broader understanding of the world we live in. Many thanks to our students and mentors for making this a great event!