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International Assistant Application Deadline Approaches

For The Heights

Published: Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 18:01

IA 3/1

Alexandra Gaynor for The Heights

The deadline for applications to the International Assistant (IA) Program is fast approaching. Applications for the program will be accepted until Mar. 13. The IA program, which has been a popular and rewarding program since its inception in 1980, pairs volunteers with incoming international students in order to ease the transition into life at Boston College and the United States.

The IA program has long been a competitive one, with a rate of roughly one acceptance for every five applicants, and with good reason.

 "It is a transformative experience for the International Assistants, who get to meet people from different cultures and learn about their vastly different experiences," said Adrienne Nussbaum, IA Program director.

Each International Assistant is generally paired with three international students, whom he or she will help to adjust to life at BC in a wide variety of ways.

"The international students will need help, whether with academics, culture shocks, homesickness, and generally understanding and navigating around BC and Boston itself," Nussbaum said.

The Assistants do not only give advice, however. They also arrange events for all members of the programs (assistants and students), such as dances and outings to dinner or concerts.

Though this constitutes a sizeable amount of work, those who have worked in the program have only wonderful things to say about the experience. Constantine Schidlovsky, CSOM '13, who is working as an International Assistant this year, spoke about how rewarding the program is.

"There's an immensely diverse community of volunteers, not just international students," he said. "People of different backgrounds mutually care for one another, helping people and exposing international students to things they otherwise wouldn't know about."

"The program is a mutually beneficial one, and often leads to lifelong friendships," Nussbaum said. "It is not uncommon for graduates of Boston College who met one another through the IA program, whether as international students or assistants, to maintain close friendships long after graduation."

Students interested in applying to the program need not worry about whether or not they have traveled enough or speak enough foreign languages. "The international students want to meet Americans," Nussbaum said.

 In fact, many assistants who had never been outside the U.S. have gone on to join the Peace Corps after graduation, in part because of the international experience with which being an assistant provides them.

The program looks for good listeners and communicators who really want to help. Assistants generally have a good base of knowledge about BC and Boston itself, so that they can be of help to the often overwhelmed international students.

"We look for people who genuinely care about helping other people," Schidlovsky said.  

The application process consists of an essay and interview, but the applicant is free to set up the time for the interview and choose his or her interviewer, who is always a current International Assistant.

More information can be found at the IA website, www.bc.edu/ia.

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