In January 2019 CUSU’s Student Life team successfully launched a new four-week Buddy Scheme to support new EU and International students settle into life at Coventry University.
This new four-week wellbeing project was the brainchild of Executive Sabbatical Officer Blessed Pepple (pictured below), former Vice President of Internationalisation and Culture and now Students’ Union President. Student Life staff members Vanessa Enebi and Kitt Duff helped him to set it up. Their main aim was to assist 29 new students adjust and settle into life at Coventry University, to improve their English and navigate a new city.
A Coffee Afternoon Welcome Event was held to launch the programme where mentors and students met for the first time. Activities included a campus tour, an overview of extracurricular activities, a city tour, drop-in sessions and an International Culture night celebrating One World Week.
Student Tofunmi Awofeso was one of a group of enthusiastic Buddy Project Mentor volunteers and feels the scheme gives new international students a sense of welbeing and orientation. 71% of the incoming EU and international students didn’t know anyone in Coventry prior to starting their course – with a resounding 86% finding it beneficial.
Tofunmi (left) and the student she helped to mentor, and (below) first participants of the Buddy Scheme
Initially apprehensive about becoming a mentor, Tofunmi drew on her own experiences as new student from Nigeria focusing on she would’ve liked to have known when she first joined. She says: "If I had a mentor in my time when I came, I would have felt more comfortable and I would have enjoyed it better and known so much.”
The scheme far exceeded her expectations. She formed longstanding friendship with not only the international student from Hong Kong she was mentoring but five other course participants.
The group conquered initial communication barriers and enjoyed a vibrant cross-cultural exchange with Tofunmi teaching her International student partner phrases in Yoruba and going out for meals together. They sampled a range of cuisines including Chinese, Indian, and Nigerian. She said: “I know my partner really enjoyed the process and when she goes back to Hong Kong she said how this was wonderful and she's made new friends and new family.”
Tofunmi is keen to volunteer again and encourage other students to become mentors. She says: “I would recommend this to anyone new coming in and students who want to be active because it is a better way to help the community and get involved, besides that it was really fun! It is really important for students’ wellbeing.”
It is hoped the Student Buddy Scheme will re-launch in January 2020.
Interested in becoming a mentor?
As a volunteer Buddy Project Mentor, you’ll be paired with a new student and asked to give them a tour of the campus and surrounding areas, share your knowledge and experiences of University life, and make them aware of the additional support and opportunities offered by the University and Students’ Union.
If you’re interested in taking part please email: firstname.lastname@example.org; or Tel: 02477 655289.
Key contacts for EU & International students:
UNIVERSITY MEDICAL CENTRE www.covunigp.co.uk Email: Engleton.email@example.com Phone: 024 7659 2012 Location: The Hub (2nd floor)
SPIRITUALITY & FAITH CENTRE, https://www.coventry.ac.uk/study-at-coventry/student-support/health-and-wellbeing/spirituality-and-faith/ For more information visit their website Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Phone: 024 7765 5296 Location: The Hub (3rd floor)
CENTRE FOR GLOBAL ENGAGEMENT https://www.coventry.ac.uk/study-at-coventry/centre-for-global-engagement/ For more information visit their website Email: email@example.com Phone: 024 7765 9312 Location: The Student Centre (first floor)
COUNSELLING & MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES https://www.coventry.ac.uk/study-at-coventry/student-support/health-and-wellbeing/counselling-and-mental-health-service/ For more information visit their website Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Phone: 024 7765 8029
INTERNATIONAL OFFICE https://www.coventry.ac.uk/international-students-hub/current/student-support/ Email: email@example.com Phone: 024 7765 2152 Location: The Student Centre
CENTRE FOR ACADEMIC WRITING https://www.coventry.ac.uk/study-at-coventry/student-support/academic-support/centre-for-academic-writing/ Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Phone: 024 7765 7902 Location: Frrederick Lanchester Annexe
SIGMA MATHS SUPPORT CENTRE https://www.coventry.ac.uk/study-at-coventry/student-support/academic-support/sigma-maths-and-stats-support/ For more information visit their website Email: email@example.com Phone: 024 7688 7550 Location: Lanchester Library
STUDENT UNION ADVICE CENTRE, https://www.cusu.org/advice/ Email: suadvice@Coventry.ac.uk Phone: 02477 655200 Location: The Hub (first floor)
STUDENT ENGAGEMENT CENTRE https://www.coventry.ac.uk/study-at-coventry/student-support/student-engagement-centre/ Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Phone: 024 7765 6565
IT SERVICES https://www.coventry.ac.uk/study-at-coventry/student-support/academic-support/it-services/ Email: email@example.com Location: Lanchester Library
UNIVERSITY PROTECTION SERVICE Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Non-emergency Number: 024 7765 7363 Emergency Number: 024 7765 8555 (5555 internal University phones)
POLICE Emergency number: 999 Non-emergency number: 101