KSU Students Mentor International Students

YSEALI Program Launches New Initiative

KENNESAW, Ga. (Nov 8, 2019) — Kennesaw State University recently hosted 20 student leaders from 10 different Southeast Asian countries for the Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative (YSEALI).

Creating a unique experience for the YSEALI fellows is a goal of the Division of Global Affairs, and this year the division introduced three KSU students – Gio Femy, Jasmine London and Jummy Nipo – to serve as peer mentors for the visiting leaders.

“Our mentors help our visiting leaders learn about new cultures and gain a better understanding of the American university experience,” said BinBin Jiang, executive director of the Division of Global Affairs.

Jummy Nipo
Jummy Nipo
Jummy Nipo, a senior accounting major at KSU, said she knew volunteering as a peer mentor for YSEALI was a perfect fit for her. As an international student, she understood the challenges of a new country and wanted to offer support.

“I chose to be a part of this because I remember how overwhelming campus was when I arrived here as an international student from Bangladesh,” Nipo said. “Other students helped me so much, and it made me want to do that for others.”

For the duration of the YSEALI students’ time on campus, the peer mentors showed them student life at KSU.

“We all became such good friends,” Nipo said. “I’ve learned so much about Southeast Asia, and now I can’t wait to get to visit that part of the world.” 

This is the fifth cohort that Kennesaw State University’s Division of Global Affairs has hosted YSEALI. Sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, YSEALI is the U.S. government’s signature program to strengthen leadership development and networking in Southeast Asia.

This year’s cohort focused on civic engagement, and during their four-week residency, they took courses on civil and human rights, peace studies, and more while also visiting cultural sites including the Civil Rights Museum and other historic sites in the Southeast.

Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative group members at KSU
Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative group members at KSU

“The program allows these students to strengthen their leadership skills for when they return home. It also strengthens the relationships between the United States and Southeast Asia,” Jiang said.

The YSEALI students have taken home the lessons they’ve learned about democracy and civic engagement and the friendships created during their time at KSU. The experiences have also left a lasting impression on the KSU peer mentors like Nipo. “This feels like the most impactful thing I’ve done at KSU,” Nipo said. “I’ve made an impact across the globe by spending time with new people and making new friends.”

In the summer of 2020, the YSEALI group will reunite at a symposium in Southeast Asia, where they will share the implementation of their action plan projects, build a broader network and tell their communities about Kennesaw State University and the peer mentors that made lasting impressions.

—Andrea Judy

Photography by David Caselli

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A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers more than 150 undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its approximately 38,000 students. With 13 colleges on two metro Atlanta campuses, Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia and the third-largest university in the state. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the region and from 92 countries across the globe. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 6 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status, and one of the 50 largest public institutions in the country. For more information, visit kennesaw.edu.