Saint Mary’s welcomes international students
Kiera Johnsen | Tuesday, September 2, 2014
The International Buddy Program at Saint Mary’s College, designed to connect incoming international students with Saint Mary’s students from the United States, kicked off the year Tuesday with its first major event, the International Ice Cream Social in Dalloway’s Clubhouse.
The event, sponsored by International Student Services, the Global Studies Department and the Saint Mary’s Student Government Association (SGA), is the first of many to be done by the newly-launched program, which aims to help international students integrate themselves into the Saint Mary’s community, according to Catherine Sullivan, a senior and international co-chair of SGA.
“The program connects returning Saint Mary’s students with first-year international students, new English Language School students and new exchange students on a personal level,” Sullivan said. “The students spend time together, study together, help each other get involved on campus and more. The ultimate goal is much more than just having a returning Belle help a new Belle manage campus life; it is to connect two people from two different cultures on a personal level.”
The program, which had an application process for returning students, received an overwhelming response. Sullivan said the wide support was both heartwarming and unsurprising.
“One of the most unique and beautiful facts about Saint Mary’s is the powerful sense of community that envelopes our entire campus, faculty, staff and students included,” she said. “… All of the young women chosen as international buddies spoke of the outstanding qualities of Saint Mary’s that they are still learning to appreciate.
“The reason most of them volunteered in the first place was because of their love for our school and their want to share that love with newcomers, particularly those who may be having a harder time of it.”
Sullivan said the International Buddy Program can offer life-changing experiences to both the international and domestic students.
“Not only does it give our domestic students the opportunity to learn about a new culture, to nurture a new friendship and to introduce ladies to the home they love so much, but it gives them the opportunity to appreciate and take advantage of the community around them,” she said. “All of the students in this program will be looking for interesting, fun and new opportunities to share with one another.”
Grace Kumor, a sophomore in the program, said she wanted the opportunity to learn about fellow students from around the world.
“I am really interested in cultures from all around the world, and being able to be firsthand with someone who is from a different country is really interesting to me,” Kumor said.
Ruby Truong, a sophomore from Vietnam and International Co-Chair of SGA, said she hopes international students find a second home at Saint Mary’s.
“When we international students decided to come to a different country, we wanted to know more about this country,” Truong said. “I feel like I would be very happy if I would have an American mentor like that so that I could know about their cultures that we don’t have in our countries. It’s very good for both international and domestic students because the American students can know about different countries as well.”
Any students wanting to be involved in the International Buddy Program can contact Catherine Sullivan at [email protected] or Terra Cowham, assistant director for international student/scholar services and the English Language School, at [email protected]