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Global Brown Center expands International Mentoring Program, orientation

Center onboards two new staff members, receives increased program funding

<p>The GBC also added two new staff members over the past few months, according to Program Director Andrew Heald. Assistant Director Ruby Cheng joined in May, and Program Coordinator Syrina Robinson joined in August.</p><p>Courtesy of the Global Brown Center</p>

The GBC also added two new staff members over the past few months, according to Program Director Andrew Heald. Assistant Director Ruby Cheng joined in May, and Program Coordinator Syrina Robinson joined in August.

Courtesy of the Global Brown Center

The Global Brown Center for International Students, which serves as a space for students to “celebrate their international identities,” expanded both the International Mentoring Program and International Orientation — initiatives meant to support international students in navigating life at Brown. 

IMP is a yearlong peer advising program that “offers social, academic and educational support” to incoming undergraduates who identify as international. The resources offered by IMP include pre-arrival communication, yearlong peer mentorship, workshops on campus life and academics, social events and International Orientation, a five-day pre-orientation program.

“In response to continuing and emergent needs in the international student experience,” the GBC recently onboarded two new professional staff members, wrote Program Director Andrew Heald in an email to The Herald. Assistant Director Ruby Cheng and Program Coordinator Syrina Robinson joined the team in May and August respectively.

“Growing the Center’s staff has allowed us to restructure our programming model and provide more support directly to our student staff (and) … programmatic efforts,” Heald wrote.

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IO, which was held from Aug. 25 to Aug. 29 this fall, also saw an expansion to its programming. The event was extended by a day to make room for Cheng’s inaugural International Identity Empowerment Conference, Heald wrote. 

The conference was an opportunity to “get to know the different identities around campus and how they relate to the international experience,” said Claire Park ’24, senior IMP Coordinator.

IMP also hosted a series of Zoom sessions over the summer before students arrived for pre-orientation, including an event about building “peer networks” led by Park and fellow senior IMP coordinator Ellis Ward ’24.

IO received very positive feedback this year, Cheng said. Over 95% of IMP survey respondents expressed that the program built a strong sense of community among participants and made them feel that their identity was valued at Brown, she added.

IMP Mentor Arin Idhant ’26 is particularly enthusiastic about the program’s workshops, which are “informative sessions where IMP mentors choose a topic that is particularly relevant to the international experience,” he said. Workshop topics have previously included discussion on finding community, dealing with homesickness, mental health and financial wellness.

Additional programmatic changes within the GBC include “more intentional programs for graduate international students” and a “speaker series (that brings) scholars and advocates to campus to facilitate engaged learning opportunities,” Heald wrote.

Park also mentioned that “staff and student members’ advocacy” led to an increase in the GBC’s budget. This resulted in more resources being allocated for IO and increased stipends for IMP coordinators and mentors, according to Heald.

In the future, Park hopes that the GBC can physically expand, noting that “the space that we have hasn’t (changed) that much” in response to recent programming additions.

Heald hopes that the GBC will “continue to explore the needs and experiences of our students and provide spaces of healing, empowerment, community and, ultimately, home.”

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Kelvin Jiang

Kelvin Jiang is a section editor for University News and Science & Research at The Herald. Born in Illinois and raised in Palo Alto, CA, Kelvin is concentrating in math-computer science and applied math. He enjoys anything tech-related, being outdoors, and spending time with his cat.



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