Fourth-year doctoral students, Jiwon Yoo, and Beyza Sinan in the Counseling Psychology Student Association founded the International Buddy Program, or iBuddy in 2016. They saw a need for more support for international students at Seton Hall. "When I started my doctoral degree at SHU, I realized that there was not a lot of campus-wide support for international students, which took me by surprise because there were a good amount of international students at SHU. Given the need for a campus-wide program for international students and our own place to give back to the campus as counseling psychology doctoral students, we started the iBuddy program," says Yoo.
Yoo describes the goals and intent of the iBuddy program, "Beyza and I spent much time establishing the program from the get-go with a goal of stabilizing the program as a go-to place for multicultural learning. It was great to learn that there were many domestic students who wanted this experience and that they also received social support from interacting with international students. Many domestic student participants reported that they enjoyed interacting with international students and they were able to connect with them better because of their own cultural adjustment experiences, study abroad experiences, cross-cultural interests, and etc. International students also benefited greatly from the program by learning about the American culture by social interactions, practicing English, and openly sharing cultural differences with their buddies."
Yoo and her colleagues see the iBuddy program as a way to have meaningful cross-cultural connections where mutual learning and sharing can occur. "We have such an easy access to various cultures, thanks to the Internet and social media. However, we often don't realize that we are also just a step away from a meaningful person-to-person cross-cultural interaction if we open ourselves a little bit. Countless misunderstanding, assumptions, and stereotypes occur in the world, simply due to lack of knowledge and experience. I hope that iBuddy would be a place for students to learn from their experience of cross-cultural challenges and synergies interacting with one another," Yoo says.
Any Seton Hall student can join iBuddy by filling out the application, and attending one of the orientations on February 19, from 7:30-8:30 p.m. or February 20, from 7:30-8:30 p.m. in Jubilee Hall. International and domestic students are paired up as buddies each semester and can attend workshops put on by CPSA throughout the year. For inquiries about iBuddy, check out their Facebook group page, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.