Name: Poonam Dave
Job role: Internationalisation Officer
Department: International Student Office
Can you tell us a little bit about your role?
There are two main areas to my role. One of my priorities is to help foster intercultural awareness and understanding amongst students; helping them to make the most of our diverse student body and the many opportunities to expand their international experience at Warwick and beyond.
The other aspect to internationalisation is making sure that we support our international and EU students to help them overcome the challenges of living and studying in a foreign country so they can make the most of their Warwick experience too.
A big part of this is helping to smooth their transition into life at Warwick and in the UK - that’s how I came to be involved in the Welcome to Warwick 2017 Programme, which is a free welcome and induction programme for all new international, EU, or postgraduate students at Warwick.
Can you tell us about some of the improvements made for Welcome and Arrivals 2017?
This year will be the second iteration of the Welcome to Warwick programme, which takes place in the week before the start of term one. For 2017 we’re looking to build on the successes of last year’s programme, with lots of adjustments based on student feedback last year. This year’s programme features a wider than ever range of events taking place throughout the day, aiming to help new students meet each other while finding out about our amazing support services, sports clubs and societies.
Interestingly, this is also the last iteration of the Welcome to Warwick programme in its current guise, as 2018’s teaching-free welcome programme will be open to all new students. It’s been great to see lots of staff as well as student clubs and societies get involved this year, in anticipation of an even bigger programme next year. I’d definitely encourage everyone to keep an eye on the Welcome 2018 pages to stay up-to-date with opportunities and share their ideas for 2018.
What’s the best bit about being involved in Welcome, Arrivals and Induction?
I just love it - I get to work together with staff and students from around the University and the SU, all of whom are working very hard to provide an excellent arrivals experience for our new students, and that’s quite special.
In September, during the arrivals period, there’s nothing like being out on campus, seeing the new students enjoying the buzz. Seeing the results of everyone’s hard work – it’s incredibly rewarding.
What are the challenges?
Probably the biggest challenge is trying to produce a programme which works for everyone. With such a wide range of staff and student stakeholders, and the diverse needs of different groups of new students, it can be a bit of a juggling act to design the programme in such a way that it meets the shared needs of all new students as well as the targeted needs of specific groups of students, while still offering something which can benefit everyone involved.
Not many people know this about the Welcome to Warwick programme but...
The student Helpers and Team Leaders (in the red hoodies) are all volunteers, who give up a week of their lives to help new postgrads or international/EU students settle in. Although the position is voluntary, each year we receive more applications than we can accept onto the programme - their energy and enthusiasm is very catching, and they’re a key part of the success of the programme.