Wanted: Peer Mentors

ISSS is very excited to announce that our brand new iSucceed Mentorship Program will launch this spring! The mentorship program will ease the transition of new international students as they begin their studies at SJSU, helping them navigate cultural and social challenges as well as campus life. In preparation for the launch of the program, we are looking for volunteer Peer Mentors who are enthusiastic and want to make a difference in the lives of new international students. Peer Mentor applications are open September 21-October 28, 2020.

Apply to be a Volunteer Peer Mentor 

Why be a Peer Mentor?

  • Expand your worldview! Learn from others about cultures across the globe.
  • Make a difference! It feels good to help others, and you’d be surprised to see the impact your kindness can make on someone else’s life.
  • Boost your resume! Develop intercultural, interpersonal, and leadership skills–transferable skills employers seek.
  • Work on a multicultural team in a supportive environment.

Who’s eligible to be a Peer Mentor?

  • Undergraduate students (international or U.S.) in good academic standing (2.0 GPA or higher) with at least 1 year at SJSU.
  • Graduate students (international or U.S.) in good academic standing (2.0 GPA or higher) with at least 1 semester at SJSU.

Peer Mentor Responsibilities (Spring 2021)

  • Commit to volunteering for one semester
  • Weekly time commitment varies, but averages 1-2 hours per week
  • Required attendance at Mentor Orientation &  iSucceed Kick Off event 
  • During spring semester, regularly check in with your assigned Mentees via Zoom, email, social media, text, or phone conversation (your choice)
  • Provide support and guidance to Mentees, directing them to appropriate resources as necessary
  • Attend bi-weekly Peer Mentor meetings via Zoom
  • Engage with the iSucceed community
  • Keep in close communication with your Advisory Board liaison, who will help you during your time as a Peer Mentor (the Advisory Board is like a small team of mentors mentoring a mentor).

Learn more on our website: https://www.sjsu.edu/isss/events/isucceed/index.html 

Cultural Conversation: Gender & Identity 

Join us on Friday, September 25, 2020 | 2:00-3:00 PM (PST) via Zoom

Why do some Americans introduce themselves with “they/their/theirs”? What does queer mean? How can I be an ally? If you’ve ever wondered these things, you won’t want to miss out on this Cultural Conversation, where you’ll have the opportunity to ask questions and share what you feel comfortable sharing in a safe, non-judgmental environment.

Facilitators: Dr. Kyoung Mi Choi (she/her) & Dr. Robert Marx (he/him), Lurie College of Education 

Dr. Robert Marx & Dr. Kyoung Mi Choi

 Message from Dr. Kyoung Mi Choi 

“Welcome, new international students! My name is Kyoung Mi Choi and I am an associate professor in the department of counselor education at SJSU.  I was an international student from South Korea when I first came to the United States in 2001. I remember learning and navigating the cultural differences and norms were both exciting and challenging. Compared to U.S. culture, Korean culture is more collective and conservative. It was not easy for me to explore and embrace my own sexual orientation in a new culture. However, I can say that it has been the most inspiring and healing journey. I’d like to share my story with you and would also love to hear yours. I hope you can us” 

Message from Dr. Robert Marx

“Hi, there! I’m so excited to meet with all of you! I’m Robert Marx, and I’m an Assistant Professor in Child and Adolescent Development at SJSU. I grew up in Virginia in the U.S., lived abroad as a student in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and worked abroad in Singapore. I definitely had to adjust to new ways of thinking about gender and sexuality, not only living outside of the U.S. but also moving from the South to the North to the West Coast. I’d love to talk more with you about gender and sexuality, and I’d love to get to know you! I also hope that Kyoung Mi and I can answer any questions you might have!”

What we are planning to share:

  • Diversity in Gender and Sexual Identity
  • What Are Pronouns? Why do they matter?
  • Your Culture vs. US Culture: Are They Different or Similar?

Useful Resources

  • Queer Educators and Counselors Network. To learn more about Drs. Marx and Choi’s work, check out QECN
  • Here is a list of resources for LGBTQIA+ International Students

Cultural Conversations

We are pleased to introduce a new series called Cultural Conversations as part of our Beyond Global Spartan Welcome program. Cultural Conversations introduces timely and pertinent topics related to U.S. culture, and are facilitated by our campus partners who have expertise in the area. These conversations take place in a safe, non-judgmental space where students can ask questions to further their understanding and share their perspectives on how the topic is viewed through their cultural lens. Oftentimes these topics are something international students may be curious about as they have heard about it in the news or perhaps saw it referenced in social media, but haven’t had the opportunity to explore further or discuss with Americans. For example, our first Cultural Conversation was Exploring Social Justice, led by our friends Chris Yang and Sharon Singh from the MOSAIC Cross Cultural Center. We learned about the social justice concepts of power, privilege, and oppression, and also reflected upon our own identities and experiences with difference.

Are you an international student who wants to learn more about U.S. culture? Are you an American student who wants to explore these topics from different perspectives? We hope you’ll join us for a future Cultural Conversation. Simply click on the links below to register and save your spot!

Understanding Academic Integrity Personal and professional relationships can differ by culture. How do we appropriately and effectively communicate with our peers? What about with faculty? In this Cultural Conversation, we’ll also talk about social norms and expectations in relationships both abroad and in the U.S.

Facilitators: Gisi Thompson, Student Conduct & Ethical Development & Keri Toma, International Student & Scholar Services

Friday, September 18, 2020 | 2:00-3:00 PM (PST) via Zoom

Gender & Identity Why do some Americans introduce themselves with “they/their/theirs”? What does queer mean? How can I be an ally? If you’ve ever wondered these things, you won’t want to miss out on this Cultural Conversation, where you’ll have the opportunity to ask questions and share what you feel comfortable sharing in a safe, non-judgmental environment.

Facilitators: Dr. Kyoung Mi Choi & Dr. Robert Marx, Lurie College of Education

Friday, September 25, 2020 | 2:00-3:00 PM (PST) via Zoom


Visit our ISSS events page to see our featured events. Learn more about Beyond Global Spartan Welcome, including Global Leader Chats and workshops.

Student Spotlight: Hazel Choi

Hazel Choi

Haeseo (Hazel) Choi

Graduate Student

Major: Urban & Regional Planning, MA

Home Town: Seoul, South Korea

Hazel has been a Global Leader with ISSS since 2019. She is also the recipient of the 2020 Louie Barozzi International Scholarship. 

What is your dream job?

City Planner or Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Analyst

What types of activities are you involved in at SJSU or in your community?

  • SJSU Recognized Student Organizations: Urban Planning Coalition, TRANSITion, 
  • On-campus job: Global Leader at ISSS, 
  • Community Organization: CommUniverCity 

What is something you want others to know about your hometown, home country, or culture?

The city of Seoul consists of various colors. The city, for example, has a high-tech aspect in the Gangnam area, and shows more traditional history in the Gangbuk area. One of the hottest places is Itaewon, where diverse ethnicities and cultures are mixed together. I also strongly recommend eating street food if you visit Seoul. There are so many kinds, such as Eomuk, Bung-eo-ppang, Tteok-bokki, which is very delicious and cheap!

What do you enjoy most about SJSU?

I take advantage of the school’s various resources as an SJSU student. Academically, I use the Writing Center to review my assignments once more before submitting them. In particular, graduate students can meet with tutors for 1 hour. I have also joined student organizations that are related to my major. Through these organizations, I received financial support for conferences or seminars that I wanted to attend. Finally, I have learned professional skills and tips that I was unfamiliar with as a foreigner and built networking by attending events hosted by ISSS or the Career Center. 

Where is your favorite spot on campus and why?

My favorite place within the school is the Natalie and James Thompson Art Gallery in the art building. Sometimes I get too stressed out, or if I want to go somewhere quiet, I take my time there while disconnecting from the world for a while.

What do you wish you would have known sooner about life in the U.S. or SJSU?

At first, I had difficulty communicating with professors and American students. It would have been helpful to know a little earlier about how important emails are in the U.S. After time to get over it, I Immediately contact and confirm with professors regarding any confusing matters related to the class. In addition, I first shared articles related to the class by email to my classmates and formed a friendship with them. It is also important to check the email frequently as various school updates are notified through email.

What message do you have for our Global Spartan community?

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected everyone, but I think it creates anxiety and uncertainty, especially for those studying abroad. We can only take classes online and have fewer opportunities to experience various American cultures. At this point, I think it’s important to look back on why we are attending SJSU. I believe we’ve all come here to achieve our own goals. Think positively and hope that everyone will endure well at this time. Best wishes for this new semester!!

Fall 2020 Career Workshop Series!

ISSS is pleased to partner with the Career Center to offer a series of workshops this fall that have been specially designed with our international student audience in mind. We hope you’ll join us!

Preparing for Job Fair Success

Wednesday, September 9, 2020 | 2:00-3:00 PM (PST) | Registration Required  

Are you ready for the Career Center’s upcoming Virtual Job Fairs? Career Counselor Judi Garcia will help you understand what to expect when you enter the Virtual Job Fair and how to best prepare yourself for professional interactions at the fair. International Student Advisor James Coon will share important information regarding your F-1 status and employment.

Strategies for Job Search Success with Special Guest Speaker Calvin Liu Navarro (LinkedIn)

Thursday, October 8, 2020 | 7:00-8:00 PM (PST) | Registration Required 

profile photo of Calvin Liu Navarro

Calvin Liu Navarro, LinkedIn

We are pleased to present our special guest speaker, Calvin Liu Navarro, Technical Recruiter at LinkedIn. Calvin will share about his experience as an F-1 student, his career path, and his perspective as a recruiter.

In this session, you will also hear from Judi Garcia, Career Center Counselor, who will share tips for job search success, and International Student Advisor James Coon, who will discuss CPT and on-campus employment basics.

Virtual Networking Panel

Thursday, November 19, 2020 | 7:00-8:00 PM (PST) | Registration Required 

Networking (even virtually) is not only important to your job search, but also critical to your long-term career growth. In this panel discussion, current SJSU students and alumni come together to discuss their experience at SJSU and share strategies for building your network.