One of the unique aspects of the PEER mentoring program is its emphasis on service.
Over the course of the year, mentees collaborate and develop a service project in which they work towards improving a specific community issue. Under the guidance of mentor project leaders, mentees hold speaker events, create poster campaigns, film documentaries, lead discussions, engage local members of Philadelphia, and much more. Mentees focus on issues that they feel passionate about - past projects have addressed the model minority myth, self-segregation, the Bamboo Ceiling, and intergenerational gaps.
Along with the organized service project, PEER holds workshops and discussion-based events that help mentees better understand the challenges that Asian Pacific Americans face in the community and encourage them to take the initiative in solving these problems. Students participate in optional and mandatory service opportunities throughout the year.
PEER hopes that the program will help future campus leaders develop a greater awareness of APA topics and promote community-wide action to create a better environment for Asian Pacific Americans.
PEER puts a high emphasis on developing a community dynamic -- mentors and mentees are encouraged to bond with every member in the program. Mentees will find friends not only in their mentor but in other first year students as well.
PEER also helps students adjust to college life at their own pace. The social scene at Penn can be intimidating, but as a PEER mentee, first-year students have a group of supportive friends with whom they can attend Penn events and share experiences. They also have the opportunity to bond with upperclassmen in a way that surpasses academic and career advice.
Often, the friendships developed through PEER last well beyond college.We also organize many social events in order to maintain the community dynamic such as:
- Performing arts and cultural shows (dance, acapella, etc.)
- Ice skating
- Arts and Crafts study breaks
- Game nights
- Center city excursions
One of PEER's goals is to help new students build the foundation during their first year to become future leaders at Penn. We recruit mentors who are established leaders on campus to help guide mentees. Current mentors chosen for 2016-2017 include students from all four schools at Penn (College of Arts and Sciences, School of Engineering, School of Nursing, and Wharton).
PEER mentors in the past have held leadership positions in major campus organizations including the Asian Pacific Student Coalition, the Civic House Associates Coalition, Penn Undergraduate Assembly, the Asian Pacific Leadership Initiative, Penn Dhamaka, Penn Undergraduate Biotech Society, Wharton Trading Group, Penn Speaks for Autism, Chinese Student Associate, Vietnamese Students' Association, Taiwanese Student Association, Penn Women's Center, Peers Helping Incoming New Students, Penn Band, College Houses Board, United Minorities Council, Social Planning and Events Committee, Queer Alliance/LGBT Center, various sports teams, alpha Kappa Delta Phi sorority, Sigma Psi Zeta sorority, Lamda Phi Epsilon fraternity, Phi Gamma Nu fraternity, and many more.
In addition to providing leadership training through our mentor community, PEER also hosts a series of leadership workshops throughout the school year. Workshops have focused on topics including public speaking, time management, and resume building. During our public speaking workshop, PEER tries to help members become more confident speakers through a series of fun exercises, while at our time management workshop, PEER invites career counseling services to come speak about how to become a good time manager early on in the school year. Leadership workshops are led by PEER board, mentors and staff we invite from around the Penn community.