The enrollment is not the only thing that is growing on Auburn University’s campus this year. The international presence on campus is increasing more than ever. Currently, more than 1,000 international students represent more than 100 different countries on campus. A new organization on campus provides a smooth transition into Auburn life for international students.
The International Buddy Program, or IBP, had its early beginnings in August 2013. Formed out of the English Second Language department, the program sought to pair international students with American students on campus. 70 pairs of students were matched that semester. Now, IBP has nearly 300 members, making it one of the largest student organizations on campus.
IBP provides the framework for international and local, or host, students to create same-gender friendships with one another. Members are required to spend time with their buddies at least twice a month. Most pairs surpass that.
“It’s my first time in America, so my buddy teaches me a lot of things that I’ve never known before,” Faissal Alhelal, an English Second Language student from Saudi Arabia said. “He helps me learn English more and more when we hangout.”
International students help American students paint a picture of what the world is like beyond life at Auburn. Cultures are shared and new holidays are celebrated.
Host buddies help the social transition for international students and help them experience American culture. The program sheds light on simple activities that are unique to American culture. Host buddies enjoy taking international students to places like Walmart or Chick-fil-A for the first time.
Students fill out an application to join IBP. Buddies are paired based on similar interests expressed in the application. A buddy reveal takes place every semester to unite new and returning pairs. The program coordinates events throughout the semester for buddies. The organization takes applications all year.
“I appreciate IBP. It has helped me with every single thing,” Alhelal said.
(All photos used with permission: International Buddy Program Facebook)
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