"I feel a deep sense of belonging to the team":
International student experiences as peer-assisted learning advisers
International students are an important driver of HE in Australia. Programs and curriculum are designed to support these students’ well-being and their academic development (Burdett & Crossman, 2012), and while important, so too are extra-curricular activities. This paper examines the experiences of four international students engaged in an enriching education experience as paid advisers in a peer-assisted learning program. The experiences of these international PLAs (IPLAs) are interesting in light of a number of reports indicating that international students do not work with other students outside of class (Edwards, 2010). The study draws on both the international student experience and student engagement literature. According to Radloff (2010), while higher education should facilitate the development of employability skills, it should also develop “self and civic awareness” (p. 38). On this basis, the Australasian Survey of Student Engagement (AUSSE) General Development Outcomes for higher education (Coates, 2010) are used as a guiding principle to frame the study. These IPLAs showed increased self-awareness, an ability to solve complex problems through managing their own behaviours and student behaviours and flexibly responding to student issues. They all revealed greater self-awareness in terms of their skills and in their attitudes to others, while improving their language proficiency. The PLA program enabled them to gain insight into the host culture, enabling them to reflect on their own home cultures which led to further insights and awareness. Their work in the PLA program appears to have facilitated opportunities to interact with domestic students they would not have otherwise had.