Educator Development, International Teachers, Teaching Resources
Five Ways to be an Exceptional Local Adviser
Each year, Participate Learning welcomes hundreds of cultural exchange teachers to the United States. These visiting international teachers share their culture with students through our dual language and global programs. We are committed to providing these teachers with all the necessary resources to ensure that they are well-supported as they transition to a new country. One of the most valuable resources is a local adviser.
Advisers support new international teachers as they adjust to life in the United States as part of Participate Learning’s cultural exchange program. These advisers are fellow teachers who help their colleagues learn about their new community, find a place to live and answer the many questions that invariably come with adjusting to life in a new country.
Local advisers are among the first people that new international teachers meet after their orientation. Advisers are the first point of contact for teachers, providing support and encouragement as they get acclimated. This relationship is the most valuable aspect of their work. Learn from several outstanding local advisers about how they make a difference in the lives of their advisees.
1) Prepare in advance for your advisee’s arrival
Being an empathetic person, I started looking into the needs of my advisees’ way ahead of their arrival to the United States. When I spoke to my advisees while they were in Jamaica, they had questions and were uncertain of what to expect.
To settle their minds, I went ahead and recommended houses close to their jobs. They were able to contact various apartments and speak to different managers who were able to answer their questions and give me a tour of the studios. I visited and took pictures of the flats for my advisees.
This helped them to make their selection on housing coupled with location, affordability, and other amenities before their arrival. I believe that nothing should be done or left for the last minute.
-Madonna Ferguson, Participate Learning teacher from Jamaica and first year local adviser
2) Be ready and available to guide and support your advisees
It’s really important just to BE there and show them some guidance. Of course, we all have responsibilities and so much to do at school, but being a local adviser means taking some time to be with these new people. They need to know that there’s someone out there that cares about them.
It’s going to be extra work, but if you really want to be a good local adviser, and you want to make them feel good and you want them to really thrive, you try to be there 100%. And if you can’t, send a message or call to check on them because it makes a difference. That’s the most important part.
-Rose Lanetti, Participate Learning teacher from Venezuela and repeat local adviser
3) Help your advisees become independent
I enjoy when my advisees tell me stories about things that they’ve done on their own and hearing the pride in their voices. At some point, they start being independent, and I like when they tell me, “Oh, I want to be a local adviser next year because you were great and you really helped me, and I want to pass that along to someone new.”
I think we are teachers and I embrace this part of my life, we nurture people to grow. I’ve seen that in my life, people have invested time and resources in me, so why not give someone else that gift, too? For some, they only need encouragement to do things on their own. But each of my advisees brings something different and I enjoy that.
-Jhonatan Osorio, Participate Learning teacher and local adviser, 2014-2018
4) Report on your advisee’s progress and milestones
As a local adviser, you want to give your advisees the best experience possible and make sure they are progressing with milestones related to their adjustment and life in the United States.
Submitting reports to Participate Learning is a quick way to chart and celebrate the progress of your advisees as they secure permanent housing, obtain a driver’s license, etc. It helps us know that they are doing well or if there is anything we can help with. Completing timely, regular reports as required is key to providing the best support you can.
-Marlee Devine, Local Adviser Coordinator
5) Get to know your advisees as individuals
Together, my advisees and I have done fun, fulfilling things beyond the scope of a local advisor-advisee relationship. From greeting them with sandwiches and snacks when they arrived in Jacksonville (it’s a long ride from Chapel Hill after all!), to vouching for them to the local furniture vendors, and liaise with them with the school community to going to church together on Sundays.
We get together as often as we can, with no other interest other than their success, as well as the success of the Dual Language program. My advisees were led to create bonds where we support, help, advise and comfort each other.
–Maria Loria, Participate Learning teacher from Costa Rica
Read more about the experiences of our visiting international teachers and how they acclimate to life in the U.S. in “My First 3 Days in the USA as a Cultural Exchange Teacher.” Interested in discovering more about our cultural exchange programs and applying to teach in the USA? Learn about the requirements and process.