International Buddies prepares for another year

Kara Warren, international buddies adviser, speaks with Paula Mendez, sophomore in computer science and current international buddies president, and Lindsey Fangman, junior in human resource management and future international buddies president, during a meeting in the International Students Center on April 18, 2016. (Austin Fuller | The Collegian)

Paula Mendez, sophomore in computer science and current International Buddies president, will be stepping down from her role as club president at the end of the semester. Lindsey Fangman, junior in human resource management and future club president, is preparing to take over.

“It’s kind of a whole transition process,” Fangman said.

Fangman and Mendez are putting on an event, Fun in the Sun, today at Jardine for the International Buddies. There will be outdoor games, ice cream and more at the event. The club puts on two or three events a semester in order to get members to interact with each other, Mendez said.

“We focus on ice-breakers – especially the first one,” Mendez said.

Mendez said one example of these “ice-breakers” is the human bingo game. She said there was one game played at a past event where the members went around and tried to find someone with red hair or someone who has traveled to five or more countries.

“The fun thing about it is you do (these kinds of games) and people continue speaking,” Mendez said.

Mendez said she has never been an international buddy for an incoming international student, but most of the officers in the club have. Fangman said she got started after seeing the International Buddies represented in the activities fair one year. She has been a buddy for a student from China and Afghanistan. Her and her buddy tried to meet every three weeks or so to go the club events or go out to eat, Fangman said.

“Sometimes it’s kind of hard when you’re from different cultures, you have different things you can and cannot eat,” Fangman said.

Mendez said the club has around 200 pairs of international students and buddies. Pairings are made by the officers of the club based on the applications sent by both the international students and the buddies that contain personal questions about preferences in who they are matched with.

“We’re looking at what people like to do, who’d they like to spend time with, and we’re trying to match that with someone similar, someone different in those aspects so that they have the best experience with International Buddies,” Kara Warren, international student support coordinator, said.

Mendez said the officers try to match buddies based on interests. She said an example would be if a buddy is studying a foreign language, they might try to pair that student with an international student who speaks that language.

Though the club is no longer accepting applications for officers, Mendez said the club looks for new buddies at the beginning of each semester. This can help both the buddies and the international students.

“(International students) just want someone that helps them with the culture shock,” Mendez said. “Having someone by your side that is from that place- it can explain to you why things happen a certain way, and that helps.”

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