Read about some of our program participant experiences below
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Being a mentor in the Peer Support Network Program in SEBE has not only assisted me to discover myself, but also provided me with a sense of belonging. As a new international student I first joined the program as a mentee and then eventually became a mentor later on.
It is a safe place for new students and for mentors like me. It was a place where I could reflect on my journey, share it with others and also continue to learn new things. Now when I look back, I can see how enormously the program changed my views and learning processes. Not only did it allow me to make a lot of friends from various courses and cultural backgrounds, but the process of conducting mentor meetings, brainstorming new activities for our group, collaborating with my mentor partner, and then reflecting on the overall process, was an amazing journey for me. The annual Peer Support Network Program Professional Development Evening is the cherry on top.
Being a \mentor, I learnt how to articulate transferable skills, understand cultural and emotional intelligence, and recognise the impact a student’s diverse background can have on their requirements and support needs.
My recommendation is to take a brave step and ask for support and get involved! Be a part of the Peer Support Network Program and try to be engaged in as many activities as possible. These are a precious part of the journey that will assist you to discover yourself and help you to connect with different people.
After completing my course and reflecting on my journey at Deakin, it shows the transformation of a shy person to a confident and resilient one. Being a part of Peer Support Network Program family made me feel connected and I will always cherish my memories.
Why I became a mentor
The main reason I became a mentor was because of how hard my first year was at uni. I had just moved from a small country town to Burwood, nearly three hours away from my friends and family and pretty much everything I knew.
I felt very overwhelmed and quite homesick in my first few weeks at university and the program was helpful because I had people there who I could talk to and relate to. They gave me tips and tricks to help me settle into a completely new environment and learn how everything at university works - from assignments and referencing to all of the different services and opportunities. Without the Peer Support Network I would have struggled a lot more to transition from a small rural high school to a huge university.
I chose to apply to be a mentor so that I could be there for anyone who may be struggling through their transition into university. I’d like to be a person that others feel comfortable coming to for help, or just for a chat. So far the program has helped me to meet new people and make some good friends, as well as learn more about university and all the different things available to us here.
Moving to Australia from India
Moving to Australia from India has been an amazing experience for me. One of the key differences between India and Australia is the different educational methodologies each country places more emphasis on. India focuses primarily on theory, whereas Australia incorporates a more hands-on approach.
Another difference is the expectations of students. The Indian education system is very formal and expects students to put their best foot forward towards study, prioritising it above all else. The Australian education system however has a more flexible approach, which allows students to grow in their own unique way- giving them enough freedom to experiment and learn from their experiences. The development of soft skills is essential, and this is something the Australian education system supports nails.
Culturally, there are many differences between India and Australia. India’s population is large and highly diverse which leads to a higher sense of competition and a much more intense environment. Australian culture on the other hand, is calmer and not as competitive.
One of the biggest things I have learned since moving to Australia has been how much communicating and talking can help. Most of us new students feel out of place after moving to a different country and find it hard to open up. Problems can seem big and unsolvable and can build a lot of mental pressure. I’ve often found that just talking to other people, be it students or staff, helps a lot as you realise that you’re not the only one who has these problems, or the solutions are simple. I personally recommend the Faculty of Science, Engineering and Built Environment (SEBE) Peer Support Network Program, where new students can get the help of experienced students who have been through similar things and know where to go for support and assistance.
Meet a mentor: In my spare time
When I'm not studying or working, my favourite pastime is rowing and going to the gym. I love cooking and baking, especially creating alternative foods such as gluten free, vegan and recreating my grandmother's recipes. I also volunteer!
I am a member of Barwon Rowing Club in Geelong. This rowing club also has a gym, so I gym as well during the week. Exercise for me is important as it has been proven to improve brain and body performance. So it means I can be more successful in my university studies, all whilst keeping fit. I also love to row or gym with a friend, giving me some social time and more spare time later. On the mornings I don’t row, I head to the beach for a pre-sunrise swim and yes, it’s very cold. But usually the sunrise is worth it!! Overall, exercising and hanging out with friends always puts me in a good mood for the day.
I love cooking and baking, especially creating alternative foods such as gluten free, vegan, or healthy ‘unhealthy’ goods. There’s something quite nostalgic about recreating my grandmother’s traditional Italian recipes. It makes me happy that I can modify these recipes so that more people can enjoy them as much as I did growing up. Not to mention there’s something quite therapeutic to baking, especially kneading bread dough (gotta keep my pandemic sourdough starter going!)
Another thing I do in my spare time is volunteer. My current volunteer program (other than SEBE mentoring) is with Diversitat in Geelong. The program I’m in was designed to prevent elderly people from experiencing isolation. I love volunteering as it’s a way to give back to the community that raised me. It gives me the ‘warm fuzzies’.
So that’s what I do in my spare time, and I hope I’ve given you some ideas!
Why I become a mentor
Taking the plunge and applying to become a mentor was perhaps one of the best decisions I’ve made. I reached every single professional development goal I set out to achieve at the start, and made good friends through the program.
When I was new to Deakin, becoming a mentee sounded like a commitment I couldn’t keep up with. I was very wrong and I wish someone told me otherwise. The Program creates a little escape for you and is a safe space to confide in. It is a place you can be yourself and have a little fun. Mentors share their valuable student experience and how they make it through university. I wouldn’t have had to struggle fitting in, this support network would have helped me stand out.
Mentors know all about the great deal of services available to ensure new students have a smooth transition. If you join the program as mentee, you’ll have easy access to a network of people who’ve got your back. Having that sort of support is extremely helpful out of high school, after a gap year or coming as an international student like me. If you don’t agree with me, take Sir Isaac Newton’s word for it. He said that if he’d seen further, it was by standing upon the shoulders of giants. Of course, mentors aren’t giants, but they surely have been there, done that.
As a mentor, to see my mentees thrive and succeed was definitely my biggest reward and very fulfilling. Well, I should admit, the plethora of exclusive perks were just as appealing, but they never topped the smiles I got to see at the end of every session, or the occasional thank you note they left in my inbox. I also picked up a bunch of people skills and built strategic relationships through networking events and workshops.
On a final note, let me leave you with some wise words with a twist. This is the time to make impromptu decisions, take wrong turns and detours and explore your options. Be daring enough to try new things. Do not let these wonderful opportunities pass you by.