Moving countries to pursue post graduate studies can be a very challenging decision. For Pavithra moving from Sri Lanka to Rotorua, Aotearoa New Zealand, to study at Toi Ohomai Institute of Technology was an easy transition. Moving away from family in a wonderfully warm country to a city with a very different climate and culture proved to be very challenging. However the Buddy Programme, run through Student Pusle Te Runanga Tauira Inc, has proven to be of immense worth to Pavithra. Having opportunities to interact with other international students has helped her to overcome some difficult times during her settling in to study and life.

Janine Frost-Jones is the coordinator of the Buddy programme and provides training for student mentors. Pavithra needed additional support which Janine was able to help with. Pavithra described Janine as “being like a mother to me. I shared my feelings with her. Sad things and happy things”. Affordable accommodation was a major area of concern and it is through the hospitality of a local Sri Lankan family that Pavithra has access to a home that is both friendly and affordable for her needs.

The Buddy Programme provides a range of opportunities for students to connect socially including a fun games day. The Student Pulse led Multi-Cultural Celebration days also helped Pavithra to feel empowered in her culture as “I was lucky to represent my country”.  Being encouraged to join the Buddy Programme introduced her to new people with whom she has built friendships. Pavithra describes herself as being “much happier now” and she is volunteering to support other students in semester two 2018 using the tools she has learned academically and socially. The Buddy Programme which has helped Pavithra to become settled in Rotorua will now give her an opportunity to develop her own mentoring skills through volunteering to support other students.

Student Pulse is accepting applications for Mentors and Buddies from people who want to be part of the program from July to December 2018. If you are interested in learning more about the programme can support you can click here for more details.

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