Program Helps International Students Adjust
The College of Business and International Programs are collaborating on a new “buddy” program. American and international students have been interacting through group activities such as a campus scavenger hunt and an international game night (pictured). Some American students have also helped with issues such as transportation and shopping. A banquet for the international students is being planned for January.
“Our students can’t all study abroad, but we can bring the world to them in a small way through programs such as this,” said Carol Steinhaus (Business). “This project is mutually beneficial. Northern’s domestic students increase their global understanding, create potentially long-lasting friendships and obtain an experience that will look good on their resumes. The international students have an immediate social support network upon arriving at Northern and someone to teach them about the campus, region and culture.
Steinhaus said about 30 students responded to an e-mail and expressed an interest in participating to ease the transition for their international peers. Many said they were grateful to be on the receiving end of a similar program when they studied overseas. For example, when five students traveled to Bielefeld, Germany, they were met on the train platform by their buddies. Steinhaus said international students are guests of NMU and deserve the same brand of warm, welcoming hospitality.
Rehema Clarken (International Programs) said giving international students the opportunity to make more friends more quickly aids in retention.
“It’s really important for international students to be integrated into the wider NMU community and this allows them to form an immediate connection with people outside of their roommates. For the pilot year, we created a community of students. Next year, our intention is to do more one-to-one matching and expand the program to other majors. It was logical to start with business for the pilot because about half of the university’s international students are business majors.”
The buddy program pilot is supported by a grant from the Wildcat Innovation Fund.