In the U.S.
ISP in the USA: Supporting Students and their Support Groups
ISP will organize a group from the community for each student to provide for any or all of the student’s needs that are not covered by the school. ISP will be actively involved in the student’s visa application process. The support groups will work with the appropriate university offices initially on the financial requirements for issuing an I-20 to the student. The support group will also be available to work with other offices on campus on any problems that may arise during the student’s enrollment at the school.
The preceding statement is evidence of an ongoing ISP commitment to student support. With 45 students and 35 support groups in the US, it is clear that volunteer support groups are essential for the success of each ISP student and the ongoing ISP program.
The support group is a community of persons who gather around a student and share a firm commitment to help throughout the student’s entire academic career as needs arise. From the student’s arrival in the USA until the student’s return to Iraq, an ISP support group is responsible for ensuring that the physical, psychological, social, and financial needs of the student are met.
ISP support groups complement professionally staffed campus-based student services available to enrolled students. ISP students are expected to seek out such services and utilize them whenever they are available and advantageous.
Support groups are varied. They may be a single adult providing housing and financial support to a single student, or larger groups of on-campus and off-campus volunteers providing support to one or more students. Volunteers typically include adults from the wider community. Groups may be anchored in a religious or civic organization, a campus-based international student program, or simply a group of interested and concerned individuals.
Although the entire Board of Directors and stateside ISP Staff are all directly responsible for the support and maintenance of the ISP Mission, much of the direct contact between students and support groups is sustained by the Coordinators of Support Groups.
The Coordinator of Support Groups, with the assistance of Board and other Staff Members, will . . .
Coordinate Efforts to Form New Support Groups
- Identify local individuals and groups who are interested in ISP
- Provide a list of both general and specific needs for the enrolling student so that prospective group members understand the vital role they play in the student’s achievement
- Provide a schedule of important dates and events for which group support is required
- Provide a copy of ISP’s Support Group Guidelines to interested persons
- Answer questions about Support Group formation and operation
- Provide contact information and facilitate information sharing among new support groups and established groups
- Seek commitments from volunteer leaders to form a support group
Coordinate Efforts to Assist Existing Support Groups
- Maintain contact information for support groups (email, telephone, USPS)
- Encourage and facilitate communication among existing groups
- Serve as the primary ISP contact when support groups request help with unique situations or problems.
- Update support group resources on the ISP web site
- Share fund raising activities, both successes and failures, among the groups in conjunction with board members who manage fund raising
- Solicit regular updates from each support group on the student(s) they support
- Assist in generating positive public relations through on-campus and off-campus media
Build and Maintain the Support Group Knowledge Base
- Solicit information about media events and programs featuring ISP students and volunteers to share among all groups
- Through surveys and requests for ideas and insights, continue to refine the Support Group Guidelines
- Conduct an annual review and update of the Support Group Guidelines
- Maintain comprehensive records of all support-group related communications
- Create and disseminate the electronic newsletter updates on a regular basis to support group leaders, volunteers, donors, and students