YOLO, which touts itself as “safety and wellbeing in your pocket”, is an app that brings together information for international students to improve their cultural understanding of their new study destination.
“The conversation pieces that international students tend to have is very different from domestic students”
“I started realising there’s a number of issues that international students grapple with, and many of them are issues that relate to culture,” sad YOLO co-founder Arthur Chin.
“I wanted to create an app that focusses on wellbeing that actually helps students to settle in the country and feel more engaged in the host environment as well.”
Chin said that during researching for the app, he came across several pieces of literature that found a link between high engagement of international students and better academic results.
Speaking with The PIE News, he added pastoral care should encompass all facets of study life, and that international students needed as much help in understanding how to set up a bank account as they did for connecting with domestic students.
“The conversation pieces that most international students or most Asian international students tend to have are very different from the Kiwi domestic students,” he said.
As well as providing overseas students with culturally relevant information, YOLO also doubles as a safety and emergency app, allowing students to notify designated friends or family of their location or to contact emergency services directly.
“You might be in a library until about 10 o’clock at night and leaving for home… you might want to send a notify location, just to let your trusted contact know where you currently are,” Chin said.
He added that many international students did not seek out services contact numbers until needed, and that YOLO would remove the need to find the correct contacts in case of emergency.
In 2017, New Zealand launched its wellbeing strategy, which emphasised cultural awareness and inclusion.