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Buddy Program Helps Ease Transition

Written by Noreyana Fernando '15

illustration of greeting friends

As an international student from Sri Lanka, I had a lot of questions before I came to Ithaca College. What’s a credit? What’s a GPA? What does a bagel taste like? A year later, as a sophomore, I remembered how nervous I had been on my first day at IC. I realized how beneficial it would be to get in touch with students who were going to be leaving their home countries, to help answer some of their questions and ease their transition.

So I helped start Ithaca College’s Student Buddy Program. The buddy program puts incoming international students in touch with current IC students. The buddies are paired up through the Office of International Programs, and they are expected to correspond a few times a week via Skype, email, Facebook, telephone, or whichever mode of communication they prefer. When the international students arrive on campus, they are invited to a social where they finally get to meet their student buddies in person.

Freshman Natasha Kirabo from Uganda said she was apprehensive before she came to study at IC. “I didn’t know where I was going,” she said. “I had never been to the States before.” Kirabo was paired with a buddy from the college prior to her arrival in the United States. She met her buddy at the social, and they have been friends ever since.

Sophomore Jonathon Cummings was one of the IC student ambassadors assigned a buddy. He said he chose to be a part of the program because he thought it would give him a different way of looking at the world—and it has.

Cummings said he told his international buddy about several things, including the number of restaurants in Ithaca and the city’s diversity. “With all these different cultures and two big universities bringing a lot people in from all walks of life, Ithaca is a melting pot,” he said

As an international student myself, working so closely with incoming international students has made me feel good, and answering their many terrific questions has pushed me to explore Ithaca College even further. I have also made some wonderful friends. And today these students, who one year ago were first-time participants of the buddy program, will be helping me to organize the program for next year. We have indeed come a long way together.



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