Lita Bourne, a senior studying business management from New Zealand, said she saw that international students face struggles adapting to the school, and, for many of them, leaving their home country for the first time. As an international student herself, she said she is determined to help others overcome the trials she personally experienced in her first semesters.
Bourne explained, “I had to start from the very basics again. While juggling to find balance in my academics, social life, and spiritual pursuits, there was also the pressure of needing to learn extra things like familiarizing myself with resources on campus, working with different people, learning new lingo, deciding what classes to take and getting adjusted to working in the heat.”
She decided to create a project in helping other international students with the same problem. Her project, known as the International Student Mentoring Program, is a program that takes students of separate years, but similar countries, and pairs them together with a mentor. Bourne said, “These mentors act as guides in helping them to make effective decisions.”
“The mentees are international freshman students in their first or second semester. They are provided a mentor who doesn’t necessarily have to be studying the major they are looking into, but someone who will support and motivate them.”
She said, “When there is an opportunity to be helped in any way, don’t shy away from it. The Lord hears each of our prayers and knows exactly what we are going through. He is mindful of our struggles and will provide the very help we need to be successful in life and to go forward and assist in building his kingdom wherever he needs us.”
BYUH is home to approximately 1,104 international students, and Bourne said she believes international students have a lot of potential, but because of the difference in language and other struggles, they lose some opportunities to lead.
When asked about her inspiration for the project, she answered, “My interests in helping international students started with my personal experiences, but mainly because I knew of so many people who were struggling more than I was. Many of my new friends at the time were overwhelmed with adjusting to living in a completely new and different place.
“[They were] struggling to know how to prioritize and they didn’t know where to go for help. If they did, they were either too shy or had too prideful to ask for it.”
This program helps international students relieve pressures of figuring things on their own and helps those who may be left out because of what they do not know. Bourne said, “I found that with a genuine heart when inviting people to open up to you (or anyone they trusted), it would give them a chance to know that others did care for them.
“With the right support and motivation, they were able to see their own potential in aiming high and believing in themselves more, not just settling for less.”
Many of Bourne’s goals include wanting to help other students become successful and fulfilling their goals. She said her main focus was “All this contributes to making BYUH a Zion university, as envisioned by President Tanner.”
Lastly, Bourne said her greatest hope is that such a project will focus on mentoring these students to create a stronger foundation that will help them throughout their educational journey.
Bourne said, “I can see this becoming a part of student development services. This program can ensure students are being provided the help they need to finish their own ambitions and lead in areas they have been blessed to be a part of.”