Global Buddy Program brings students together
SAIT’s International Centre hopes to make international students’ new life on campus, and in a new country, a little easier by launching the Global Buddy Program.
With nearly 1,200 international students in academic programs and courses at SAIT in 2009/2010, international student advisors Eric Chu and Stacey Barefoot dreamed up the program, wherein second-year students pair up with first-year international students to help them adjust. The program began at the beginning of the academic year.
So far, 20 continuing students and 26 new international students have already been paired up. Participation is voluntary.
Second-year travel and tourism student Anessa Mohammed volunteers as the program’s student co-ordinator. Originally from Trinidad, Mohammed said she knows what it’s like to be in a different country far from home.
“(The program) helps to have someone to go to for information about school and other stuff as you go through a transition stage as you settle in,” she said.
“Having buddies does not affect my school work. Even though we might not meet up as often, we communicate online and via cell phone.”
Chu said the relationship between first- and second-year students benefits both. “Those students who are in the program have a higher retention rate,” he said. Students who make a positive difference in the buddy program are eligible to apply for the International Student’s Excellence and Leadership Scholarship.
Chu is still searching for second-year Canadian students to become buddies. “Internationals are looking to meet Canadians and practice their English,” said Chu. “We try to get the buddies to meet up at least once a month, not just in the beginning of the year but throughout the semester.”
Buddies are paired based on their applications and their programs to ensure success.
There are also group activities. In September, the team escorted nearly 40 international students to Saddle Peak Ranch where they spent the day horseback riding. The next planned outing is a Trojans game on Sat. Oct. 23.
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