Cross-cultural connection

International Buddies connects Wildcats from around the world.

For student Taylor Jamison, her dream to work abroad post-graduation all stems back to her involvement with the student organization, International Buddies (IBuddies). With more than 300 participants at Kansas State University, IBuddies connects international students with U.S. students and encourages cross-cultural exchange through the formation of impactful friendships.

IBuddies participants are divided into buddy groups, consisting of four buddies who meet periodically throughout the semester. IBuddies creates a space for students to share their traditions and languages, while simultaneously offering international students an opportunity to practice their English-speaking skills.

Taylor joined IBuddies as a freshman, and it has greatly impacted her college experience. In fact, she even decided to study abroad in Japan after her freshman year because of her involvement with IBuddies. Experiencing life as an international student enabled Taylor to relate to her international friends at K-State.

“I’ve gained so much confidence speaking with new people from all over the world, and it deepened my passion for learning and experiencing other cultures,” Taylor said. “I love talking with international students about aspects of American life they had to adjust to when first coming here. Those conversations have made me think differently about the world and what we might consider ‘normal’.”

Now serving as IBuddies president, Taylor’s favorite activity is attending large group events. Whether it is playing Jenga or talking about the best way to roast a s’more, IBuddies events create a comfortable space for international students and U.S. students to meet outside of the classroom. Taylor says that students are always talking about where they will hang out after the event because they are not ready for their conversations to end.

One student Taylor has met through IBuddies is Arya Sinha, an international student from India. First hearing about IBuddies at the activity carnival, Arya now serves as matching co-chair on the officer board. Although Arya was initially drawn to K-State for its computer science program, financial affordability and small, college-town feel, Arya’s involvement in IBuddies has brought lifelong friendships and new experiences, such as making her first s’more.

“I’ve had the opportunity to meet various amazing people from all over the world and it has been an excellent experience that I wouldn’t change for anything,” Arya said. “Being a part of IBuddies has been one of the best decisions I’ve made ever since I came to K-State!”

Each semester, IBuddies offers three large groups. In the past, these events have included a game night at the Union, a trip to Britt’s Farm and a ‘Friendsgiving.’ With such a large group of participants, the International Student Center is often not large enough to host the events. Currently, the organization raises funds through activities such as cleaning the football stadium, partnering with local businesses or participating in profit shares.

“Having funding for these events would let the students focus on the cross-cultural communication and not worry about how to fund the events,” said Sara Thurston, director, International Student and Scholar Services.

Written by Ariana Brancato

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