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Volume 12, Edition 2: October 2012 *20 year Anniversary*

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International Exchange Student Sanni Heiskanen (Finland, center) poses with her Staff PAL Janet Hendley (UNCG School of Nursing, left) and her mother (right) during their trip to Asheville, NC, in March 2012.
Staff Senate PAL Program—A Positive Experience

By Sanni Heiskanen, International Exchange Student from the University of Oulu in Finland

The Staff Senate PAL program is a lot like the PAL (Peer Advisor and Liaison) program, but instead of being a student the PAL is a member of the UNCG staff. The goal of the program is to help exchange students adjust to life at UNCG, Greensboro, and the United States. The Staff PAL program was first started in Spring 2012, with five UNCG staff members participating.

My Staff PAL for Spring Semester 2012 was Janet Hendley, the Assistant Director of Development in the School of Nursing. Before I even arrived at UNCG, she emailed me to introduce herself and informed me that she had been chosen as my Staff PAL.  Her email made me feel I would be welcomed when I arrived, and I was glad to know that someone was waiting for me at an unknown place. I met her in person for the first time at the Chancellor’s Welcome Reception for international students on January 17. She was really friendly and understanding of my situation because she is originally from England and knows what it is like to live in an unfamiliar culture. 

One of the best experiences I had with Janet was when she took my mom and me to Asheville. When I first arrived in Greensboro, I mentioned that my mom would be visiting later in the spring, and Janet said that this may be a great opportunity for all of us to visit her sister and brother-in-law in Asheville, NC, a city that is about three hours west of Greensboro, for a weekend. So, on March 22-29, Janet drove my mom and me to Asheville. We saw the mountains, the town, and a bit of Hendersonville as well. Janet’s knowledge of the area and her family’s hospitality definitely helped make the trip a truly enriching experience for both of us.

Apart from the trip to Asheville, Janet invited me over to her house one Sunday to have traditional English tea with two of her students and one of her friends. It was wonderful to see her home, and I had a nice time talking with everyone over delicious homemade sandwiches, tarts, and tea. Janet was also kind enough to take me to see the opera at UNCG. She also took me out to dinner before I left Greensboro and even drove me to the bus station on the day of my departure.

I absolutely recommend the Staff PAL program to all incoming exchange students! Having a Staff PAL like Janet really opened up a lot of opportunities to me that made my exchange experience richer and more memorable. She was like a combination of a friend, a sister, and a mother to me  while I was away from home, and my time as an exchange student at UNCG was definitely a lot better having someone  who I could  turn to at all times. I am very grateful that I had this experience.
For more information about the Staff PAL program, contact IPC at ipc@uncg.edu or call (336) 334-5404.

And remember: if you are interested in “all things international” visit the IPC (207 Foust Building) where we will support you in your plans to “do something bigger altogether."

Do something bigger altogether

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September 2012

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