Just after the presidential election, former international students and U.S. immigrants launched a free, texting helpline called Interstride.
With Interstride, current international students have the opportunity to connect with counselors who can assist them with any challenges they are facing by just clicking “send.”
International students are free to discuss any topics such as, problems with adapting to a new environment, how to effectively integrate with others, family hardships, careers and education, politics, or any other concerns they may have.
Creator of Interstride and former international CSUN student, Christian Eder, understands the struggles international students can face and wanted the texting service to be as accessible as possible.
“Being in a country that isn’t your home, with political environment changes and all these uncertainties creates a lot of stress,” he said. “We wanted to create this service as an easier way for international students to go through these processes.”
He mentioned that with the amount of students in need of assistance or counselors’ limited office hours, it can be difficult to make an appointment on campus. However, with Interstride, it is available for students seven days a week, 365 days a year via text message.
“We’re nationwide and a support line for all international students,” Eder said. “We can send a lot of reports and research to students who are looking for jobs or even where companies can sponsor visas.”
By being able to text, he explained how him and his volunteers can reach out to students at a much faster, immediate pace.
Because the consultants were also international students, they are able to truly empathize with them and provide great service and advice. They are an essential aspect to Interstride because only they have experienced the same issues.
Eder said there is specific criteria in order to be a consultant for Interstride. He hopes to help international students to the best of their ability.
“All of our volunteers have to be born international students, have successful careers in the U.S. and who fully understand the challenges that these students are facing,” he said.
Private conversations and any personal information are completely confidential with Interstride. The texting service has terms and conditions for all sessions to be taken seriously as well as your security.
Even international students at CSUN who have not yet heard about Interstride or used the services, are excited to learn more about it.
Fareeha Naz, a grad student and apparel design major, moved here from Pakistan and was able to gain the support from her parents. Her brother, however, faced a lot of difficulties so she understands how students will need Interstride.
“We know that a lot of companies here are not owned by people who aren’t from here,” Naz said. “But if Interstride helps students in that matter, then that would be great.”
Another grad student and nutrition major, Faisal Bensaidah, is originally from Saudi Arabia. He came to the U.S. when he was only 17 years old and believes Interstride can be a good communication tool.
“It’s a good way for international students to communicate with each other,” Bensaidah said. “I want to see who’s in that network from my own country.”
As Interstride staff is doing all it can to advertise and make its way into the limelight, Eder’s main purpose is to give back to the international student community.
“If I can help the students, get them good information and advise them, then that’s totally worth it,” he said.
For free help and advice, text “HELLO” to (415) STRIDE3/ (415)787-4833. For more information, please visit interstride.com.