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New Study Program for ICB Students

STUDY BUDDY PROGRAM TO BRIDGE CULTURAL GAP

The International College of Beijing is an opportunity for students to complete their first two years in China, and their last two at CU Denver, earning a degree in either Communication or Economics. The ICB program also has liaisons, who help these students settle in and navigate life on campus. For some students, adjusting to life in the US can be difficult.

Carly Fabian, liaison and Communication major started COMMrads, an intercultural mentorship program that mimics a study buddy program. Fabian wants students to meet once a month to grab coffee or hang out, making ICB students more comfortable here at CU Denver.

“So often we see ICB students in a bubble, wanting to be friends with each other because they can speak each other’s languages,” Fabian said. “It’s hard to connect with people on a deeper level who don’t speak your language.”

Fabian travelled to China last summer, where she met fellow ICB student and Communication major Edward Haoxiang. They created an unforgettable bond during the trip. After coming back, she knew she wanted that connection with every ICB student.

“I was really out to become friends with as many students as I could, so we’d go out to dinner and karaoke,” Fabian said. “Eventually, I was wearing myself thin. These kids really need friends who know how things work in the US.”

After speaking to Haoxiang, she realized ICB students need American friends who will help them navigate life in the US, as well as succeed in the classroom.

“From my observation, all Chinese students hang out together,” Haoxiang said. “It’s hard for them to ask questions in class because they [students] speak really fast and sometimes students don’t understand it.”

Fabian also noticed a divide between ICB and American students when walking into class one day, and hopes this program will help break the barrier between students.

“The program will be beneficial for them because they’ll be able to try something new,” Fabian said. “I think the way things are structured, it doesn’t necessarily give them opportunities to do that. We’ve got a very independent system here. Keep your nose down, do your work, and go home. There’s not a lot of socializing going on.”

Communication department Chair Stephen Hartnett credits Fabian for being aware of the changes US campuses face and helping students out.

“What I love about Carly’s idea is that it merges classroom support with social support, thus modeling how we can welcome international students into our community,” Hartnett said.

Fabian hopes the program is a success, and will continue to find ways to improve the program to better fit the needs of the students. “What I’d like to see out of it would be these friendships blossoming,” Fabian said. “I understand you can’t force someone to be friends, but you can encourage them to study together.”

—Dilkush Khan

Above: The study buddy program COMMrads aims to build relationships.

photo: Sarai Nissan • CU Denver Sentry

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