The Cultural Peer Mentors (CPMs) serve as someone who provides guidance, resources, and supports to help international students who are currently studying in the Department of Sociology and other departments at UC Berkeley as part of the Berkeley International Study Program (BISP). We are here to assist international students to make the successful cultural and academic transitions at UC Berkeley. One of our goals is to represent American culture to the newly incoming international students as they adjust to American cultures. We hope American students and international students will develop cultural awareness and acquire intercultural competency through frequent cross-cultural interaction. This is an important skill to develop as the world of work and social networking becomes increasingly more diversified internationally.
How Can I Get a Mentor?
You will automatically be assigned a mentor at the beginning of the semester. You can choose whether or not to attend the events, but you will always be invited!
It is absolutely free! Our Cultural Peer Mentors understand how international students can struggle to adjust to the new environment, so they are volunteering their time and energies to help you!
1. Have a mentor + weekly update on events
2. Do not have a mentor, but still receive newsletter and get invited to all program-wide events
Our Cultural Peer Mentors
Hi everyone! I am a third year student studying Molecular Cellular Biology on the Neurobiology track. I was born and raised in San Francisco. I joined the CPM program because I love learning about different cultures and listening to all the unique stories that every person has. Half of my family lives in China (Guangdong) and the other half of my family is in Peru (near Lima), and I absolutely love traveling to both these places and learning all the different customs and traditions. As a result, I am fluent in Cantonese and am trying to improve my Mandarin fluency. Outside of classes, my hobbies include doing a wide range of sports (swimming, basketball, baseball, and pretty much anything else), traveling and watching films. I look forward to meeting you all!
Hi everyone! My name is Harsimran Bhandal, and I’m a junior at UC Berkeley. This is my 5th semester as a CPM, and I’m excited to meet all of you! I am double majoring in MCB and French as well as minoring in Chinese. Some of my favorite things to do include learning languages, dancing (I teach at the RSF! *School gym*), watching movies, and meeting new people. I wanted to become a CPM because I wanted to meet international students and learn more about other cultures, but also make more friends! Through my time as a mentor, I have loved the experience of connecting with people around the world, and every semester I am excited to help decode the world of UC Berkeley. If you ever see me, tap my shoulder, introduce yourself, and start a conversation with me!
Julie Lai CPM
Hi everyone! My name is Julie and I am currently a third year Physics and Astrophysics major. I am a Taiwanese-American born and raised in Chicago, and I can speak Mandarin and a little bit of Spanish. This will be my first year as a CPM so I am excited to meet everyone! I was interested in being a CPM because I love traveling and understanding more about the cultures surrounding me. In my free time, I love to dance, hike, watch TV/movies, paint with Bob Ross, and run! Feel free to reach out to me if you see me on campus!
My name is Isabella Blanco! I am a third year political science major!
Fun fact: I am a black belt in Tae Kwon Do!
Hobbies: definitely watching entire seasons in an unreal amount of time, eating like there is no tomorrow, traveling, going to museums and dancing all night!
Interests: I am interested in a lot of things (lol)! I like learning about different cultures, different political atmospheres and levels of civic engagement around the world. I am particularly interested in human rights and the ways they intersect with global markets/international relations.
I wanted to be a CPM because I wanted to serve as a resource for students unfamiliar with Cal; international students deserve a support system in their new environment! I also! I am involved in a lot of different programs on campus, so please feel free to reach out to me about anything!
Hi everyone! My name is Sophie Parsons and I’m a third year physics major with minors in Dutch and public policy. I’m from San Jose, California (about 2 hours south of Berkeley!) and I speak English, Spanish, Dutch, and a little Italian and French. This will be my first year as a CPM and I’m super excited to meet everyone! I wanted to be a CPM because I just got back from studying abroad and my mentor in New Zealand was an integral part of my study abroad experience. Outside of class my hobbies include rock climbing, cooking, traveling, watching movies, and surfing.
My name is Lara Ostertag and I am a rising Junior majoring in Physics and minoring in Philosophy and French. I’m originally from Wiesbaden, Germany, but moved around a lot during my life. I speak English, German, French and can understand a bit of Spanish and Italian. I am extremely interested in learning from different cultures and getting to know different traditions and mindsets, which is why I am thrilled to meet you all. In my free time I like to take and edit pictures, travel, bike, and do arts and crafts.
Hello! My name is David Nava and I am a third year Nutritional Science and Toxicology major. I enjoy dancing and going to concerts. I am also very obsessed with the Food Network and cooking and eating new foods!
Hi everyone! My name is Yin and I am a 4th year Economics major. I am from Qingdao, a beautiful coastal city in northern China and I previously studied in Singapore for four years. I love cooking (creating my own original recipes), running, playing various board/card games, watching late night talk shows, doing Chinese calligaphy and playing Chinese musical instruments including bamboo flutes, Chinese dulcimer and some percussion instruments. I am excited to meet you all on campus!
Hi! I’m a third year majoring in Microbial Biology. I was born in New Jersey, but I’ve lived in six countries, which is one of the reasons why I chose to become a CPM. I know exactly what it’s like to have to adjust to a new school in a new country so I hope to make that process easier for you all! In my free time, I love playing tennis, traveling, discovering San Francisco and going on hikes!
I’m currently a third year studying Neuroscience. I’ve been a CPM for 5 semesters, and my favorite part of the program is the lasting friendships that come out of it. It’s amazing to interact with students from all over the world. My hobbies include playing volleyball, checking out new cafes and restaurants, cooking, and going on a run. Hopefully you guys can join me in some of my hobbies. I’m excited to meet you and am happy to be a resource for you as you make your transition to Cal. Feel free to reach out at any time!
Hi there! I transferred to UC Berkeley last fall and I’ll be graduating in May with a degree in Film Studies, but I hope some day to go to grad school for linguistics. I grew up just east of here, in Sacramento, CA, but I plan on traveling after I graduate and venturing outside of the state, and around the world. As a California native I have enjoy activities like hiking, snowboarding, making movies, dancing, going to concerts, and biking. Since I came here as a transfer student I wanted to be a CPM so that I could be involved in making other new students feel welcome and explore the Bay Area. I am proud to call UC Berkeley my home university but in such a large school it’s not always easy to make friends and get the support we all need. In BISP I have enjoyed helping students adjust to American Culture, learning about new cultures, and also having lots of fun!
Hi there, my name is Ariel and I am a third year double major in Political Science and Society and Environment. I’m a first year CPM from Chicago, and I speak a bit of Hebrew and am proficient in Spanish. I love dancing like crazy at music concerts, being outside, babysitting, watching movies and going on spontaneous adventures. I became a CPM because I spent this past summer doing policy research in India and was inspired by the cultures and people around me. I also really enjoy mentorship roles, and had an amazing time as a GBO leader last year. I’m excited to get to know you all and give you the best Berkeley experience possible.