Networks, language and cultural skills through international tutoring
International tutoring is one way to develop international skills during studies at SeAMK and gain some credits as well. Josiah Diefenbaugh (Degree Programme in Automation Engineering), Judith Lutinga (Degree Programme in Food and Hospitality) and Maarit Mäki-Könnö (Degree Programme in Social Work) have worked as international tutors. They all had a little bit different reasons for applying as an international tutor, but tutoring has taught a lot to all of them.
Judith has always been interested in different cultures.
– I applied for an international tutor, since I wanted to meet as many people as possible from around the world in order to expand my knowledge as well as make new connections, she says.
Josiah wanted to be an international tutor because he had his own experience of good tutoring, but also bad tutoring during his exchange period in Germany and Hungary.
– I wanted that exchange students get the best possible exchange experience and the best way to influence it, is to be involved, Josiah tells.
Maarit has always been interested in internationality.
– I wanted to develop my English language skills because I dreamed of going on an exchange myself. I felt that I would learn more new things as an international tutor and I wanted to challenge myself and step out of my comfort zone, tells Maarit.
International tutoring includes different kind of tasks depending on the year. Some events are organised every semester, but also new happenings are developed, and tasks depends of course also on students who are on exchange at SeAMK. Through these tasks, different kind of international skills can be developed.
According to Judith, most of the tasks have concentrated on making sure that the exchange students get a good start and being a confidant to them whenever needed.
– During Covid-19 times, I have also been involved in organising virtual events for the exchange students. As an international tutor, I have learnt more of other cultures and their day-to-day customs. I have also learnt how to communicate with students from new cultures more efficiently, Judith tells.
Josiah points out that the duties of an international tutor include supporting the exchange students in difficult questions.
– The questions can include everything, but they are usually related to school and everyday Finnish life. When you step into the boots of an international tutor, you develop your own international skills as well as language skills. At the same time, you learn differences between people from different cultures.
Maarit listed various tasks she has done as an international tutor.
– I have fetched keys from the housing company Sevas, checked the exchange students’ apartments, picked them up at the train station, organised international hang-outs, introduced the city of Seinäjoki, visited cafes and restaurants together with the exchange students, organised events through Teams, answered questions, messages and calls. And much more. And in November this year, I am leaving for Lapland with exchange students. Through these tasks, my English language skills have improved considerably. I have also learned about the cultures and education systems of different countries, she says.
International tutors are usually happy that they applied for the task and would recommend it to other SeAMK students as well.
Josiah would recommend international tutoring for people who want to improve their language skills and get lifelong friends around the world.
– Without tutoring, I would not have experienced much and would not have met all the great people I have met. This is my sixth semester as an international tutor, so I can tell you that I have experienced everything, but I wouldn’t trade anything away, says Maarit.