International Buddies helps foreign students feel at home

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Tran Pham, a sophomore in mechanical engineering, shares a laugh with Brianna Chatmon, a sophomore in open option, at the Student Union on Oct. 8. The International Buddies program is desiged to help bring international students and domestic students together.

Many international students walk on K-State’s campus, but as local Manhattan residents, we might be prone to overlook how many of them there actually are.

International Buddies is a student organization on campus that allows international students to “buddy up” with local K-State students, staff and community members with one another to learn about each other’s lives.

Those involved in International Buddies make a one semester commitment to meet with their buddies once a week for an hour. The program allows students to learn about each other’s culture, personality and customs while exploring the Manhattan community.

Ronnie Sullivan, sophomore in agribusiness and president of International Buddies, said weekly meetings are encouraged to make the buddy system effective.

We encourage buddy pairs to meet weekly so that they can form stronger bonds and gain from the experience even more,” Sullivan said.

Sarah Beebe, co-adviser for international programs, said she thinks that International Buddies is a great experience for both local and international students.

“We try at least once a month to have a large, connect type event to bring all the buddies together and let them meet more than just their buddy,” Beebe said.

Beebe said that International Buddies plays a critical role in helping K-State achieve one of the many goals of the 2025 Visionary Plan for K-State’s future growth and development.

“One of the goals of the 2025 plan is that 100 percent of undergraduate students have a meaningful international experience,” Beebe said. “One of the goals of International Buddies is to help K-State meet that goal.”

Beebe also said that International Buddies is about personal connection and the experience while on K-State’s campus.

“It’s a hands-on learning experience,” Beebe said. “So rather than just being told by a professor in a classroom how things are, they get to talk to an individual that’s been there, done that and really get to have a personal connection.”

Sullivan said he thinks that this campus organization is good for K-State’s campus.

“I believe International Buddies affects K-State’s campus in a very positive way,” Sullivan said. “Last year, I had my first buddy, which was a very fun experience in which
I learned a lot about his culture and he learned a lot about mine.”

Cidra Husseini
, sophomore in architectural engineering and vice president of International Buddies, said that she thinks that International Buddies allows international students to get a feel for the Manhattan area while also making a friend.

“It is providing an international experience
for all students on campus,” Husseini said.
It
gives a great chance for both local and international students to have
international meaning experiences, along with exploring other cultures,
customs and, most importantly, exploring Manhattan and K-State
.”

Husseini also said she thinks that International Buddies is particularly helpful to international students on K-State’s campus.

International Buddies allows international students to blend in and adjust to the American way of life,” Husseini said. “This absolutely makes them feel more comfortable living on campus and between K-State’s students.”

Hussieni said her experience with International Buddies helped her adjust to life in Manhattan when she became a student at K-State.

I have adjusted to the American life and behavior, and I network greatly with everyone thanks to my experience with International Buddies,” Husseini said. “It helped me get over my homesick phase and live my college life to the fullest.”

In agreement with Husseini, Sullivan said that International Buddies plays a critical role in an international student’s adjustment to life in Manhattan and at K-State.

“A huge part about international students becoming more comfortable
living in Manhattan is their confidence in their ability to speak
English,” Sullivan said. “Buddies
allows international students someone to casually converse with and ask
grammatical questions in a non-judging environment, which in turn greatly
improves their language ability and confidence.”

Sullivan also said he thinks his experience taught him about other cultures’ customs as well as made lifelong friendships.

Being involved in International Buddies has taught me a lot about many different cultures, plus I have made numerous friends,” Sullivan said. “Overall, it’s a fun organization that really broadens your experience as a college student and provides so many benefits to both you and your buddy.”

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