International Buddies connects American, international students

Students particpates in an introduction game at the International Student Center's Halloween Fiesta event in the International Student & Scholar Services Center on Friday October 31, 2014. (Mauricio Caldera | The Collegian)

Kansas State University has students from all 50 states and several countries. International Buddies, a student organization, pairs U.S. students with students from other countries allowing them to learn about each others’ customs, cultures and explore Manhattan and K-State.

Babatunde Alabi, sophomore in business management, came to K-State from Nigeria and joined International Buddies to avoid culture shock. Through International Buddies, Alabi attended his first social event in the U.S., a black light party, where he had the opportunity to meet other international students.

“It was appealing because international students are paired with students from the U.S.,” Alabi said. “The biggest thing for me coming to K-State was to have a support system and to utilize the resources that the university has to offer.”

The organization typically has three to four events each semester that are open to all students. For the Fall 2014 semester, there are approximately 177 students from the U.S. who were paired with 210 international students, according to Ann Burger, International Student Support Coordinator and staff adviser to International Buddies. The international buddies are from approximately 38 different countries. Some of the most common countries that participate in the program are China, Ecuador, Brazil and Saudi Arabia.

“The organization exists to create friendships between students who might not otherwise meet,” Burger said. “U.S. students have the opportunity to have an international buddy and learn about another country and culture. At the same time, international students get a U.S. buddy, which helps them adjust to the U.S. culture.”

Ronnie Sullivan, junior in international agribusiness, said he learned about International Buddies at the Activities Carnival when he was a freshman and served as president during spring 2014.

“International Buddies exists to promote diversity on campus, help international students adjust to the Kansas lifestyle, help international students improve their English and to help domestic students learn about another culture and language,” Sullivan said.

Sullivan, who is currently studying abroad in Spain said he has always enjoyed learning about other cultures so being a part of International Buddies was an easy decision.

“International Buddies is an excellent student organization to be involved with and I am happy to be the staff adviser,” Burger said. “It is a great way to help international students learn more about U.S. culture and also, a good opportunity for U.S. students to learn about other countries and cultures. I enjoy being a part of this organization and seeing students learn about other cultures and create new friendships.”

Students interested in signing up for the spring semester can complete an online form in January. Students can also get involved with International Buddies by joining their OrgSync group or liking the Facebook page.