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What is an International Assistant?

One or two incoming undergraduate international students are assigned to each International Assistant in the Fall and in the Spring terms. For some international students, this may be their first experience in the United States. Others may have studied or traveled extensively in the Untied States before. It is the International Assistant's job to adapt to the level of his/her student's needs.

The roles an International Assistant plays are:

  1. A friend and support - The most important way to help your international student is by being his or her friend. A smile or a word of confidence at a crucial moment can often do more than any list of facts. If this is your student's first time in the United States, he or she may feel homesick from time to time, or overwhelmed by the change of environment. Often, the new surroundings may appear strange and upsetting until your student feels more at home. At those times, your understanding may be invaluable.
  2. A resource person - Since you have already studied at Boston College for a year or more, you are familiar with how things work at Boston College and in Boston. Your international student may have questions ranging from "How much does the subway cost?" to "Why do Americans act this way?" Your student may also need help in such matters as opening a bank account or buying clothes suitable for new England weather. Most of these questions can be easily answered by drawing on your own past experiences.
  3. A culture sharer - Most international students come from countries whose cultures, customs, and values differ from those of the United States. The degree of difference will depend on the individual student and culture. It is your challenge, as an International Assistant, to be aware of the possibility that these differences may be present, and to be willing to explain occurrences from the American point of view. Remember, the American way is not the only way. You may find that many of the things you take for granted are peculiarly American, and may be viewed quite differently by people from other cultures. It will be your challenge to help your student understand those ways, so that he or she may readily adapt to life in the United States. Your international student will learn a great deal about American culture through everyday events. In helping your student understand the hows and whys of American life, you will come to a deeper understanding of yourself and of your own culture. Another important feature of the International Assistant Program is that you will also have the opportunity to gain an in-depth understanding of other cultures.


All International Assistants participate in a four hour training session in April and a three day training workshop prior to the arrival of the new international students at the end of August. The purpose of the trainings is twofold: International Assistants are provided with some of the necessary information and skills they need to effectively assist their international students, and through various exercises and discussions, International Assistants are made aware of what it is like to be an international student at Boston College.

Commitment as an International Assistant

You are expected to :

  1. Participate in a training session in April.
  2. Write to your assigned students during the summer.
  3. Participate fully in the International Assistant Workshop and the International Student Orientation at the end of August.
  4. Take responsibility for meeting your student immediately if he/she does not come to the International Student Orientation
  5. Make daily contact with your international student during the first few weeks of school when questions and confusion often arise, and continue to maintain contact with him/her throughout the year. It is the responsibility of the International Assistant to initiate these meetings, and to adapt to your international student's particular needs and interests.
  6. Be willing to help any new international student who requires assistance, even if he/she is not assigned to you.
  7. Serve as an International Assistant to new international students arriving in January.
  8. Help organize and attend several International Assistant/Student educational and social activities throughout the year