Global Buddies Connects Diverse Students

The Global Buddies club allows domestic and international students to mingle. Photo: Erica Barillari· The Sentry

The Global Buddies club allows domestic and international students to mingle.
Photo: Erica Barillari· The Sentry
Around the world in a single year

Global Buddies is a CU Denver program that gives both domestic and international students an interactive experience to meet people from diverse cultures by assigning them to groups to mingle within their free time throughout the year. As the name of the program implies, students are given the opportunity to make friends, while learning about culture and practicing languages that they normally wouldn’t be exposed to otherwise—making Global Buddies both an enjoyable and educational experience.

The Office of International Affairs hosts the Global Buddies program on an annual basis. Jennifer Ward, the International Sponsored Student Coordinator, in the Office of International Affairs, said, “This is the third semester running Global Buddies, and each semester we receive more interest and encouragement from the university community.  CU Denver is very diverse, and we believe Global Buddies makes a real impact in increasing cultural awareness and acceptance of differences.” For the 2018–2019 academic school year, all of the students interested in the program were required to register by Sept. 12 and fill out a get-to-know-you form in order to be matched up with people who share similar interests. 

After registration, they were invited to attend the first official meeting that served as an orientation and a meet-and-greet on Sept. 13. The participants met their group members and reflected on how their cultures differ by discussing and completing activities with their fellow buddies, including people from Colorado, Chile, China, India, and Saudi Arabia. 

Irene van Ark, a program assistant and volunteer from the Netherlands, said, “What we normally see with international students is they want to stick together even though many of them want to connect with others. They just need to make a little effort. All they have to do is sign up for Global Buddies, so we can give them that push.”   

Being encouraged to meet at least four times during the school year, the program isn’t overly demanding for students with hectic schedules. While the participants can arrange their own informal meetings and decide where they want to meet, the coordinators of the program still suggest fun meeting places for the group. Whether a group decides to conduct their meetings on campus or somewhere else in the city, all of the meetings are intended for students to build their own diverse community, while learning about each other’s cultural background in a comfortable environment. 

The group has participated in important events, including hosting Lynxgiving last year, which benefitted Las Vegas after the mass shooting in October.

Erica Barillari, a photographer for The Sentry, as well as a CU Denver student who participated in the Global Buddies program last year, is excited to be a part of it again this year. “The Global Buddies program is a fun, laid back way to experience the cultures of international students,” Barillari said. “All that is required of us is simply to hang out. My favorite memories include the time we had a potluck where we had to bring dishes from our own culture and when some of us went on a ghost tour at [The] Stanley Hotel.” 

For those who want to look further into the program, Global Buddies has Facebook and Instagram accounts. The Facebook page especially keeps its followers up to date with events and activities that the program’s members are participating in. 

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