We Grow by Helping Others to Grow – sneak peek into outcomes of our peer mentoring program

 

By Tetiana Kulbaka


November 20, 2019

We all remember our first overwhelming college days when everybody is new, a bit lost and unguided. And while these feelings are an integral part of the overall college experience in RIT Croatia we know how to make the introductory college phase less stressful and more memorable. We are proudly empowering our students to take initiative, change things for better, ensure and maintain the overall positive college environment. Let us introduce the Peer Mentoring Program that combines all of the above mentioned activities.

The Peer Mentoring Program consists of two core components: social integration as well as assistance in terms of successful academic standing. Through this program, the peer guides are helping new students in accelerating their social integration within the college society. The mentors are encouraging their mentees to stay open and take an active part in all social events organized by the college.

In addition, within the frames of the Peer Mentoring Program the mentees have a great opportunity to reveal the secret recipes of becoming successful students. However, we have to define the limits so that prevent students from accidentally committing acts of academic dishonesty. The Peer Mentoring Program is all about protecting each other`s reputation and respecting the confidentiality as the relationships we aim to build through this Program are of a voluntary, trust-based nature. That is why our peer guides are provided with the strict guidelines in this regard: the peer guides are simply assisting their mentees in developing necessary study habits by sharing their experiences, resource discovery techniques, and study tips.

With this brief introduction let`s find out about the experiences of two students who were paired as a mentor and a mentee, and thus are ready to share their perspectives. Sabina Wallace from California is a sophomore year student at the HTM program in Dubrovnik and was peer mentored by Noemi Markić from Tar in Istria, Croatia, who is studying at the same program but is already at her junior year.

Q: What was your initial reaction to having a peer mentor assigned to you in your first semester at RIT Croatia and what were your expectations from it?

Sabina: I previously didn't know about RIT's peer mentor program so it was a pleasant surprise. I didn't know what my role would be as a mentee, but I soon learned it was an opportunity for me to get to know more about RIT Croatia in a relaxed and informal environment.

Q: Why did you apply to be a peer mentor? How does this program fit you're your personal/professional goals?

Noemi: I applied because I saw a great opportunity to improve my communication skills and with it become more open to new challenges.

Q: Describe a typical meeting with your peer mentor?

Sabina: A meeting with Noemi consisted of getting to know each other and being able to freely ask questions about classes, professors, and student life in general.

Noemi: We would usually meet for a coffee and chat about college life as well as any random topics that helped us to get to know each other better.

Q: What do you consider to be the biggest advantage of having a peer mentor and how much did it help to have one upon coming to study in Dubrovnik?

Sabina: The biggest advantage of having a peer mentor is getting a student's perspective on life at RIT. Talking to my peer mentor gave me useful insight into what to expect academically and socially. Having a peer mentor was extremely helpful. Studying in a new city or country can be really overwhelming and it was nice to have someone who is already familiar with the city and could help me find my way around.

Q: What are the skills necessary to have to be a good peer mentor?

Noemi: To become a successful peer mentor one should know how to listen actively and engagingly, meaning that one knows how to show respect, listens with empathy and understanding. Peer Mentoring is also about building non-judgmental relations that require peer mentor to embrace any differences that might exist be it the nationality or age of the mentee. We are all different but that is what makes our college so unique.

Q: Tell us about the relationship-building process that you've had with your mentee?

Noemi: At our first meeting, we talked mostly about ourselves. We tried to define the areas of our interests that might overlap and thus will help to effectively build our mentoring relationships.

Q: Did you continue to socialize with your mentor even after the official peer mentoring program was done?

Sabina: My peer mentor gave me her number so I could contact her if I had any questions or needed anything. I would see my peer mentor around college and say hello and it felt really nice to see a familiar face around campus when everything felt so new.

Q: What you say that the peer mentoring program is beneficial to freshmen students and if so why?

Sabina: The peer mentoring program is extremely beneficial. Whether you are from Dubrovnik or somewhere else, it is helpful to have someone to talk to, confide in, and prepare you for what to expect for the next 4 years. I would recommend freshman students to keep in contact with their mentors and feel free to ask any questions they might have about life at RIT.

Q: What are common misunderstandings over what is the role of a peer mentor?

Noemi: Peer Mentoring is not about being someone`s ghostwriter, psychologist or a gossip buddy. However, I think our roles are clearly defined from the beginning, so the possibility that these misunderstandings occur is minimum.

Q: Would you recommend other students to apply for the peer mentoring program and if so, why?

Noemi: I do recommended, most definitely! It is a great opportunity to meet new people and make new friends, as well as discover something new about yourself, overcome some personal challenges and in the long run develop necessary professional skills.

 

In RIT Croatia we truly believe that mentoring partnership is where the success of our students begins and our Peer Mentoring Program is a vivid proof. The best way to grow personally is to help others grow. Come, join us and become the reason for one`s success!



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