8 October 2020
The Home Away From Home (HAFH) Virtual Tea Party was organized to assist the FRIENDS partners in the process of drafting the HAFH Programme despite the ongoing international travel bans across Europe and Asia. Prevented from taking part in the face-to-face meeting and the HAFH Retreat originally scheduled to take place in early October 2020 at PYU in Thailand, the FRIENDS partners met online on 8 October to deliberate and co-create the HAFH Programme. The latter is designed to meet the needs of international students and students with diverse cultural background studying at any of the 12 FRIENDS Asian universities involved. The document aims to offer an integrated model for student care and support and after publishing its prototype in English, each of the 12 Asian universities will further adjust it to their local contexts and endorse it at institutional level.
The HAFH Virtual Tea Party hosted by PSU from Thailand was attended by representatives from all 12 FRIENDS universities in Asia as well by project team members from VUM in Bulgaria, IAU in Turkey, and SUT in Poland. The online event’s agenda included joint introduction session where partners from Bhutan, Cambodia, Malaysia, Philippines, and Thailand reported on national policies and regulations concerning international student care and support already in place, good practices applied at institutional level to assist and enhance international students’ welfare as well as typical issues and challenges encountered and the solutions applied by the HEIs. Subsequently, the virtual tea party participants split in five groups to discuss in detail the topics of academic support, health care incl. mental health and counseling, cultural issues and social integration, campus life including activities, facilities and accommodation as well as services including visa, immigration issues, and information support. The listed topics participants in the five breakout sessions brainstormed about represent the backbone of HAFH Programme to published in late November 2020. (Bhutan Virtual Tea Party Presentation, Group 1 – International Student Care and Support, Group 2 – International Student Care and Support, Group 3 – International Student Care and Support, Group 4 – International Student Care and Support, Group 5 – International Student Care and Support,
Malaysia – Safety & Arrivals (APU), Malaysia – Best Practices for International Student (BUC), Philippines Virtual Tea Party Presentation, Thailand Virtual Tea Party Presentation)