Ms Caroline Halliday1, Dr Clint Arizmendi1, Ms Christina Thurn1
1Sonder, Waterloo, Australia
Safety and wellbeing are primary factors for international students and parents when deciding where to study. Positive perceptions of safety and wellbeing increase the likelihood of a student’s academic, social and emotional success. International students often live in areas beyond the influence or control of their institutions. They are physically separated from their usual support networks of family and friends. Culturally isolated in a new country, new students are not always sure whom they can turn to for help when their rights, welfare, safety or security are threatened. They preference their immediate peer group and social media channels for advice and support before communicating with institutional student services and campus security. The Sonder 24/7 safety and wellbeing service augments existing on-campus security and student services, in particular supporting students off-campus, out-of-hours and overseas. Sonder has been trialling an international, student-led engagement program to increase its activation and usage to improve student safety and wellbeing outcomes. Student Coordinators are empowered to co-create service activation strategies and deliver events and communications to support these. Sonder participated in a Practera experiential learning project in February 2019, producing an innovative social media strategy from a team of diverse, multinational and multidisciplinary students. International post-graduate students are also employed to create Sonder’s social media content. This presentation will share case studies from these collaborative student-led strategies and communications. It will explore a variety of co-created student strategies, demonstrating how the insights they provide enhance our understanding of the international student journey, perceptions of safety and wellbeing and their preferred assistance pathways. The presentation concludes that collaborating with students ensures effective safety messaging, enabling sensitivity to cultural sensibilities delivered through an appropriate mix of communication channels.
Caroline Halliday leads member onboarding and engagement initiatives for Sonder, a role which involves finding innovative ways of talking to students about safety and wellbeing concerns, proving to them the value of making space on their cluttered phones for yet another app, and empowering them to seek assistance when in need. She was previously at Studiosity where she held General Manager, Student Experience and Product; and Director of Consumer Marketing roles. Prior to that, she held a variety of senior production and journalist roles with a number of UK and Australian media organisations. Caro holds a Bachelor of Arts, Linguistics from Macquarie University.