The Post-Arrival Orientation, which is scheduled to take place 3 to 6 weeks after arrival, is a time to go into more depth on family, school, and cultural issues, as well as to teach students certain skills they can use in adapting to a new culture and family. By now, the students have spent time in their family, school, and community, and come to this orientation eager to participate in these discussions.
This orientation is designed to take place over a weekend, and includes a minimum of 6 hours of orientation content.
Important to keep in mind at both the Welcome and Post-Arrival orientations is that you are working with students who have had little experience with our culture (and in many cases, with any culture other than their own). By identifying concerns and questions they are likely to have when they first arrive in an unfamiliar place, you will show them empathy and help to build their self-esteem.
At the Post-Arrival Orientation, they will have a different set of concerns and questions. The following diagram of “concentric circles” illustrates common newcomers’ concerns and will help you understand the timing of our orientations in light of the students’ needs.
Start in the center. The diagram is based on the assumption that most newcomers are preoccupied with a sequence of fears and concerns. When the concerns in the center ring are dealt with, the student is able to move to concerns in the second ring, and so on. A successful experience includes knowledge and skills with all the concerns listed in the diagram. Topics in the orientation program should be addressed in similar order.
At the center of the concentric circles diagram, closest to the arriving student, are the concerns that are uppermost in their minds: Where will I stay? How and what will I eat? Will I have a chance to rest and sleep? Where will there be restrooms and bathing facilities and will I know how to use them correctly? These questions are answered at the earliest possible opportunity during the Welcome Orientation and some may need to be addressed again at every orientation.
Topics in the outer rings of the Concentric Circles will be covered primarily in the student’s host community after they have had an opportunity to make their own observations, have had some personal experiences, and have formulated their own questions about assumptions, values, habits of thought, and patterns of behavior in the host culture. The Post-Arrival Orientation provides the chance for students to discuss many of these issues and ask questions.
How to Use the Volunteer Leader’s Guide
The Volunteer Leader’s Guide is a companion piece to the Post-Arrival Orientation Handbook. It is designed to help you facilitate the orientations. The Volunteer Leader’s Guide will give you the objectives, an overview of the content, an agenda, and a list of materials you will need to run each session. Suggested talking points are written in italics.
The student handbook is designed as a workbook to be used during the orientation, in conjunction with the Welcome to the USA booklet and Safety Tips for the USA, which participants receive as part of their pre-departure orientation in their home country. The Welcome to the USA booklet contains important information for the students to refer to throughout their year. Information on rules and policies therein, matches the information provided to the host families in the Host Family Handbook.