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How To Make New International Students Feel Welcome At Boarding School

Vincent Paget

March 26, 2019

Students from all over the world choose to attend a boarding school abroad as a hands-on way to improve their English language skills and to explore and experience a country they may end up attending university in. For any student, the transition into boarding school can be a stressful one, let alone doing this in an unfamiliar country - from food to teaching styles, a new country brings different experiences and can make settling in a difficult task.For pastoral care staff, ensuring these students feel settled and welcome can be a tricky path to navigate, however with the right approach, routine and monitoring software, these pupils can be welcomed into the fold happily and healthily. Here are four of our recommendations for making new international students feel welcomed at boarding school.

1. Have dedicated staff for international students

While all students will need a transition period to settle into the dynamics of boarding school, your international students may need further support. For this reason, having a dedicated or specialised point of contact for these pupils can provide a familiar face that they can turn to when problems arise, and who are equipped to deal with these issues.These dedicated staff members should have a collective understanding of the backgrounds of these international students, including cultural or religious practices, and have the capacity to tailor an appropriate induction process. While the care of international students doesn't always fit under a one-size-fits-all guideline, ensuring that extra support is given without undue alienation is key.

A school corridor.
Starting a new school can be stressful for anyone, let alone in a foreign country.

2. Devise a structured programme for the first few weeks

Though the experience of attending a boarding school outside of their home country is going to foster independence in your international students, you shouldn't throw them in the deep end and expect them to swim. The unknown can be distressing for anyone but a routine can reduce the unfamiliarity of situations, and brings a sense of order and calm to the day.For an international student, the interim periods between timetabled activities or meal times can be stressful, especially if they're unsure of where to go, or what they can do. Structuring their first few weeks can be a great way of integrating them into boarding school life, while they learn more about the education system and cultural nuances of your country. Furthermore, scheduling regular activities where other pupils gather to study or play can help them make friends, and become familiar with the many faces in the boarding house.

3. Ensure key information communicated with all staff

The nature of a boarding house means that the same staff members may not be around every time an issue arises for a student. International students, in particular, may need extra care and support while they're settling into boarding school life - having a record of any concerns of theirs, or yours, is important when making sure that all staff members can be kept in the loop. Boardingware allows you to centralise key pastoral information so it can be instantly accessed and continually updated with ease.If international students need a little more attention or have been exhibiting any concerning behaviours, you can add them to a special watchlist that enables other staff members to be notified of this information in order to provide a personalised level of care, such as asking them if they would like to talk further about homesickness or other worries.

A person is on a laptop
Boardingware software allows for all members of your pastoral staff to be on the same page about the needs of different students.

4. Provide cultural classes as well as English language improvement

It is important to teach new international students about the country they are staying in beyond their textbooks or English exams. Take time to educate them about the local customs or manners, geography and history to familiarise them with their new home. This way, different cultural practices that they'll experience won't seem too foreign to them, and they'll be sure to appreciate the insight.At Boardingware, we've refined a software solution to support your pastoral staff, with student interactions and developments readily available. For more information, take a look at our demo.

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Vincent Paget

Vincent Paget is an Operations Manager at Orah based in Auckland, New Zealand. He loves technology, organisation, nature and adventure sports, not necessarily in that order.

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