OIP and GLC Launch a Friendship Initiative to Support International Students
International students who are new to campus can often feel overwhelmed by being far from home and their families and being immersed in English as a foreign language. Often in the United States for the first time, these students may not have any experience on an American college campus or understand American ways and norms. They need to learn how to get around, how to get involved, and how to manage academic life in a new country away from friends and family. Unaddressed, such challenges can lead to feelings of isolation, frustration, confusion, even depression.
To help students feel more connected and adjust to the culture here, the Office of International Programs (OIP) and the Global Learning Center (GLC) are excited to announce the launch of the Global Friends program for the Spring 2024 semester. This student support resource will pair international students with domestic* undergraduate, graduate, and ESL students who are interested in fostering cross-cultural friendships and being beacons for the international Pirates who have landed on the shores of Seton Hall’s campuses.
*A domestic student is someone who is from the US or who has been here for at least three years and feels comfortable helping to guide and support their match as they find their feet.
Andrea Hundley, International Student Advisor & ESL Coordinator, is enthusiastic about the new program: "I'm looking forward to this endeavor and facilitating friendships between students on campus that transcend boundaries."
Domestic volunteers and their "global friends" are asked to commit to at least a semester or even an academic year of mutual support. This includes students helping orient their new friends to whichever campus they are on and its surrounding areas, giving them opportunities to practice English without pressure or judgement, and inviting them to attend events and activities both on and off campus. In return, international students will expose their buddies to both different and shared cultures, traditions, and viewpoints, resulting in a mutual mentoring experience and cultural exchange for all.
Matches will be encouraged to meet once a week if possible, or at least two to three times a month. In addition to independent meetings, OIP and the GLC will plan events to help matches grow their circles with other matched friends and build a network of multicultural learning and support.
Jessica Wilson, Director of the Global Learning Center, says: "Bringing Seton Hall University students together in celebration of all things international and cultural doesn’t just enable us to support our students from around the world, it creates a mini-international exchange right on campus, and that benefits both sides of the relationships the Global Friends program will build." She and Hundley plan on fostering additional collaborations with other student groups and clubs as the program grows.
To get involved with Global Friends, both domestic and international students should fill out an intake form and answer questions about their interests and preferences in order to ensure a good fit with their match. OIP and the GLC remind students that this is a volunteer program, so matches are not guaranteed. Anyone who has concerns about their match will be encouraged to reach out to the program facilitators. For further questions contact Global Friends.