World Waves students on an excursion at Malibu Yogurt and Ice Cream fall 2021. They spent time together getting to know each other better. Photos courtesy of Cory Robertson
The World Waves program, which is in its second year, is an optional fall program to help international students adjust during their first semester at Pepperdine, said Cory Robertson, assistant director of student success and program leader.
Through the program each international student is paired with a Pepperdine student who serves as a mentor and helps them adjust, Robertson said. The program also includes various experiences and opportunities such as meals with professors and excursions into Malibu international students otherwise may not receive.
“World Waves started to help international students adjust a bit more quickly to Pepperdine,” Robertson said. “The program aims to connect the students to the broader Pepperdine community.”
Fan Zhang, sophomore international student from Enshi, China, said learning about other cultures was a big reason why she joined World Waves.
“Learning about other languages and cultures has always been a passion of mine,” Zhang said. “At Pepperdine, not only did I want to learn about American culture, I also tried to seek other opportunities to make connections with international students.”
Zhang said she was part of the World Waves program last year and decided to return this year to be a mentor to one of the new Pepperdine international students in the program.
“As an international student, I understand all of the excitement and anxiety the new international students may have when they first get on campus,” Zhang said. “After spending one year at Pepperdine, I have experienced many amazing opportunities and resources Pepperdine can offer to international students.”
During her time in the program last year, Zhang said she experienced many different activities and excursions such as when the whole group went to SunLife toward the end of semester.
At SunLife, Zhang said the group started sharing memories of the program, wrote notes to each other and took pictures.
“I still have the paper with everything everyone else has written to me, and I still look at it now whenever I feel lonely,” Zhang said. “The memory of all of us at SunLife makes me grateful for all of the amazing connections I have made throughout the program.”
This year is Robertsons’ second year overseeing the World Waves program and she said there are about 21 students participating. In addition to students, there are also professors involved with the program including Brian Newman, who teaches HUM 295-Enriching the International Experience.
“As the class title suggests, we’re trying to enrich each other’s experience at Pepperdine and in the U.S. by providing opportunities to engage with the culture and reflect deeply on our experiences,” Newman said.
Newman also said the students make sure to immerse themselves in the local culture and reflect on the activities they shared together.
“All along the way we’re grateful to have a handful of student partners, some from the U.S. and some international students,” Newman said. “Inside and outside of class the student partners facilitate small groups where we can support and learn from each other.”
Running into the World Waves students on campus and seeing them thrive is something Newman said he loves about the program.
“Spending time with the World Waves students has been one of the most rewarding things I’ve done at Pepperdine,” Newman said. “I love hanging out with and learning from these bright, funny, brave, observant, fun people. They challenge me, make me laugh, help me encounter other ways of seeing the world and teach me about places they’ve lived.”
Pepperdine students wanting to get involved as a student partner can apply via Instagram or email the Student Success Center, Robertson said. If an international student wants to get involved, they can contact the Student Success Center.
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