VIU International students

Peer Helper program


The Peer Helper Program provides volunteer leadership opportunities for continuing students who are motivated to support new international students and contribute to making VIU's Nanaimo campus a vibrant, inclusive and welcoming place for everyone. The program is housed in the Department of International Education under the coordination of the Intercultural Program Coordinator. Peer Helpers support welcome events and cultural activities that serve to support and connect over 2,000 international students with each other, the broader campus community, Nanaimo and beyond.

The current intake is a nine-month volunteer commitment from mid-March 2022 to mid-January 2023 (note: there is flexibility over much of the summer to accommodate absences for summer employment and travel). The volunteer term consists of training sessions, workshops and a minimum of 30 hours of volunteer service. The primary volunteer role of Peer Helpers is to support the various English Language Department orientation and welcome events that take place at the beginning of each term (6 terms per year). The secondary role of Peer Helpers is to support cultural and social events that help build a sense of community and create space for cultural diversity and inclusion. Through such activities and more, Peer Helpers not only gain important interpersonal and intercultural skills, they often benefit socially from the new friendships and learning that come along with being part of a such a dynamic group of engaged students from around the world. 


The application period is open now until March 21st, 2022.

Forms available at VIU Cultural Connections "Glassroom" located in the main reception area of Building 255 or by emailing 

Role of Peer Helpers

Peer Helpers are experienced students that provide a warm welcome and offer a helping hand to new international students during their first weeks at VIU. They also volunteer to support or host special events that help students build community and make connections on campus.

Duties include:

  • Actively participate in peer helper training & leadership and intercultural skills development sessions.
  • Assist with orientation duties including new student check-in, ESL testing support, campus tours, computer account set-up, event support and occasional one-on-one support.
  • Use skills from Peer Helper training to provide cultural adjustment support to new students.
  • Be knowledgeable about campus and community resources to be able to refer new students to appropriate resources.
  • Participate in International Education initiatives including Culture Couch, panel discussions , workshops and special events.
  • Encourage new students to participate in campus life activities

Rewards of Participating in the Peer Helper Program

  • Gain valuable leadership and intercultural skills while gaining experience to help build your portfolio.
  • Increase your network of friends and connections on campus.
  • Make a difference on campus and in the experience of new students
  • Earn the Peer Helper Program "Certificate of Completion"
  • Become eligible for one of three $1,000 tuition credit awards for your semester of study at VIU.

How to Apply

Peer Helper recruitment takes place once annually. Selected students serve a minimum of a nine-month term as volunteer campus leaders. To be selected for the program, applicants must demonstrate a positive attitude, a commitment to volunteering, and a genuine interest in helping fellow students.

Applicants will be assessed based on their application and initial participation and attendance. Eligibility requirements are:

  • Must be currently enrolled in a full-time graduate, undergraduate, or upper-level English Language Centre programs
  • Must have completed at least one full semester of studies at VIU.
  • Have at least 1 academic year of studies remaining (students in their last semester are not eligible).
  • Must be in good academic standing in the previous semester (2.0 average or equivalent).
  • Possess reasonably strong English communication skills.
  • Interested in learning about cultures different than their own


Notices for the application period are delivered to students each July via campus newsletters (International Point of VIU and Compass). It is also promoted through VIU Cultural Connections Facebook Page.

For more information, please contact Simon Schachner by email at or Facebook at "Viu Simon"

Click on link below for 2021-2022 Peer Helper Application Form:




New students have the opportunity to connect with Peer Helpers during International Student Orientations. If you would like to connect with a Peer Helper you may email the program coordinator at