Peer Support Advisor program was created around March 2020 under the background of COVID-19 global pandemic. The situation was rapidly changing and had huge impact on majority of the international students who are or planning to study in Australia. It was identified that something new need to be created to support our students. As the situation was changing on daily basis, we will need to a better way to communicate to our students, providing them timely accurate support.
I think this program was a great initiative. By creating a program what was specifically designed to support students who were affected by COVID-19, it is passing along a message that we care our students, we want to help our students and we are here for them all the time. Peer Support advisor program were able to solve many students’ problem in a very timely manner if not we were able to provide students with the right information about where to find help. Lots of time students wants to ask for help but they simply do not know where to. This program is specifically designed to solve this problem.
It is especially true for new students that are afraid to talk to authorities. They feel intimidated when talking to something who is in power, even though all the staff want to do is to help them. This is not a problem when it comes to our program. The entire team is made up by current students, we understand their position and we know exactly what they are going through. This helped us to better support the students. In addition, because we are their peers, we are closer to them, they know that they can say anything to us. Peer Support Advisor program are like a bridge between the university and all students, we know students’ questions and help them to solve them by highlighting it to the relevant department across the university.
Peer Support Advisor program really helps to bring all the students together and creating a vibrate student community despite that everyone has been separated in space due to COVID-19. By creating social group chat, helping students to know people that are in the same boat as them, providing the opportunity to meet friends over the internet, connect to each other. This increase their sense of belonging and letting them know that we are not alone, we are all together handling this global pandemic. We periodically run social event to all suspended students, which really mimic the original student experience, make them feel that they are part of the student community. They are study with many students like.
Not only the peer support advisor program helped many suspended or new students, but it also provided a great opportunity for peer support advisors to develop their very own skill. I found this really amazing by getting students involved in this support process not only we are able to engage students better but also making ourselves (which is student as well) better. We were able to gain a range of skills (public speak, video editing, mentoring etc.) by participating this program, enable us to develop/demonstrate USYD graduate qualities.
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