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 an 11-month commitment from February 2024 to January 2025, with a break over much of the summer term (ideally our Peer Helpers stay on until the new intake of Peer Helpers in February 2025, but we can accommodate shorter terms if students are planning to leave campus at the end of the 2024 Fall term.)

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 two times per semester.

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 such a dynamic group of engaged students from around the world. 

Applications are accepted until February 5th, 2024.

Forms are available at VIU Cultural Connections "Glassroom" located in the main reception area of Building 255 or at the link below. Please return to, or to Janine at the International Education reception. 

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 participating in Peer Helper training and leadership and intercultural skills development sessions
  • Assisting with orientation duties including being greeters, helping with campus tours, computer account set-up, event support and occasional one-on-one support
  • Using skills from Peer Helper training to provide cultural adjustment support to new students
  • Being knowledgeable about campus and community resources to be able to refer new students to appropriate resources
  • Participating in International Education initiatives such as Culture Couch, panel discussions, workshops, and special events.
  • Encouraging 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"

How to Apply

Peer Helper recruitment takes place once annually. Selected students serve a minimum of an 11-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 as follows:

  • 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

For more information, please contact Simon Schachner by email at

Applications will be accepted until February 5th, 2024.

Application forms are available at VIU Cultural Connections "Glassroom" located in the main reception area of Building 255, or at the link below. Please return to, or to Janine at the International Education reception.


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