A new registered student organization is being started by three DU students to help ensure international students at Davenport have a great experience in a new country. Kelsey Kuiper, a third-year computer science major and recipient of the Gerald R. Ford Memorial Scholarship, studied abroad at Limerick University in Ireland last year and was assigned a student “buddy” that would help her with any questions she had about the campus or city. It also helped her get to know people in a new country.
“Moving to a different country is a big transition,” she said, “and having a buddy can make the transition much easier.”
Kelsey and fellow students Lily Hou and Hannah Soules decided to launch The Buddy Program at DU to help international students become acclimated and connected within the Davenport community.
“We are looking for students who are excited to help international students settle into their life here,” said Kelsey. “Participating in the Buddy Program gives current DU students a chance to connect and network with students from all over the world. International students bring a variety of different cultures, backgrounds and beliefs to the Davenport community. The Buddy Program will provide students with an opportunity to engage with this unique student population while enhancing their own experiences here at DU.”
Buddies will be expected to help make international students’ transition to life in Grand Rapids go more smoothly by being open, flexible and responsive to their needs. Buddies will be expected to dedicate at least 10 hours per semester with their assigned international student, including an initial meeting at the beginning of the school year. Buddies will act as a resource, answering questions the foreign student may have about the W.A. Lettinga Campus or the broader community. The Buddy Program will host two group events per semester for the buddy pairings to attend.
“Our hope is that these buddy relationships will eventually evolve into friendships that further connect international students to the Davenport community,” said Kelsey. “We’re extremely excited for this opportunity!
Students interested in becoming a buddy should fill out an interest form before Sept. 8. Buddies will be selected from the applicants based on their campus involvement, availability and preferences, matched with international students having similar interests. Buddies will be notified in the first few weeks of the school year if they have been matched with an international student. If not selected to be a Buddy, students are still welcome to attend group events as another way to get connected to DU’s international students!