About the Program
I-Connect is an initiative by Rackham Graduate School to provide a friendly, peer-based welcome to incoming international students during their first year at the University of Michigan, while also providing an opportunity for existing University of Michigan graduate students to connect with students from around the world.
Through this program, incoming international graduate students can:
- Access an online resource-sharing site (a U-M “CTools” site) featuring Frequently Asked Questions, an online International Student Resource Guide, discussion forums, and event announcements of interest for international students.
- Contact the International Welcome Program coordinator – and fellow Rackham graduate student – over the spring and summer to ask questions not answered online or even just to make contact with a friendly “face” before arriving.
- Attend social events and cultural adjustment workshops hosted by Rackham and a dedicated group of I-Connect Ambassadors – advanced domestic and international graduate students interested in welcoming you to the U-M community.
Existing domestic and international U-M graduate students are invited to participate as I-Connect Ambassadors. Each year, Rackham will select approximately 50 dedicated volunteers who are enthusiastic about welcoming and making connections with incoming international graduate students. By committing to attending at least four social events throughout the year, and participating in Rackham-coordinated online networking and social media (such as CTools and Facebook), I-Connect Ambassadors will serve as one of the pivotal points of contact in creating a climate of caring for new international students. It’s a wonderful opportunity to meet new people and potentially build friendships and connections that will last well beyond the program itself.
History and Feedback
The I-Connect program was organized for the first time to connect incoming Fall 2007 international graduate students with experienced graduate student volunteers. The program was a success with the participation of 86 volunteers and 191 incoming students. By Fall 2010, those numbers had climbed to 144 volunteers and 366 incoming students. Asked which aspects of the I-Connect program they enjoyed the most, here is what previous participants have had to say:
- “Getting to know new students, their backgrounds. It helps you grow as a person interacting with people from diverse communities and learning to respect their aspirations and inhibitions.”
- “Being able to convey to…new students the mistakes I made early in my graduate career. From my point of view the program was about connecting inexperienced people with experienced people and this goal was a complete success.”
- “I have more people to turn to when I need help. And knowing people and gathering together is a heart-warming thing.”
- “The program met my expectation because in the beginning of the year there were… a lot of events, providing a convenient framework for meeting other people. The first few weeks (before the stress begins…) are the period in which it is best to create new connections.”