The University of Helsinki launched a Student Ambassador programme two years ago. The university waves the baton, but making the music sound fresh is ultimately down to the team of current student ambassadors.
Among them are M.A. students Chen Shuo and Junru Dong from China, who act as ambassadors and provide vital support to fellow international students in getting to know the university.
As student ambassadors they act as a link between the university and the community of international students. They use their own experiences to give international students advice in studying and living in Helsinki.
They help to organize fun activities, like the training together for the Helsinki Midnight Run last summer. They blog, attend expos and, above all, share their personal understanding with fellow students.
Recently Shuo’s and Dong’s jobs took them to their homeland China. They worked in Beijing for a week during the Science in Dialogue event in which the university deepened its cooperation with Peking University.
Dong joined the Biotechnology Master’s programme of Biological and Environmental Sciences department at 2013. He is now doing research on stem cells for his Master’s thesis.
"The Science in Dialogue event is a really great experience. I am sitting here in Beijing in the position where I happily can advertise the University of Helsinki to Chinese students. I really have confidence in them and their ability to be excellent students in Helsinki. I feel passionate about my job as ambassador and making new friends," Dong declares.
On the campus of the Peking University both Dong and Shuo tiredlessly answered questions from Chinese students about studying at the University of Helsinki and about life in Finland.
What university? Is it cold? What about housing? What country? These are questions that the Peking university students asked Shuo and Dong on the campus during the Science in Dialogue event.
"There is a saying when you have one more friend, you have one more path. This is what I feel in my job as student ambassador," Dong says.
Fellow ambassador Chen Shuo, is a first year student in the Master’s Programme of Translational Medicine in Faculty of Medicine.
"In Helsinki I met and greeted the new international students during the orientation week and acted as a campus guide. I feel really lucky that my job as ambassador took me from Helsinki to Beijing. In Helsinki I helped with the preparations for the Science in Dialogue event. I translated some texts for the flyer and also wrote the ambassador’s story for Weibo (Sina Weibo is a Chinese microblogging website)."
Shuo says that it feels very nice to stand up as ambassador. The title gives her credibility and people really want to listen to her.
Being a member of the community
The Student Ambassador programme provides an excellent opportunity to gain valuable work experience, improving skills such as communication, team work and working with different age groups. Planning Officer Salla Mehtälä from Admissions Services says she hopes the ambassadors personally benefit from their experience, not just the university.
"Ambassadors can choose what they want to do according to their own strengths. The job provides an excellent opportunity in integrating into the student community. I am in the lucky position to work with young and well motivated students," Salla concludes.