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International Center

University of Missouri

International Friendship Program promotes cultural exchange, lasting friendships

Filed in News and announcements by on April 21, 2015

International Friendship Program Trivia Night

The International Friendship Program matches new international students and scholars with members of the MU and Columbia communities. This cross-cultural friendship program is facilitated by the International Center and offers international students a more authentic and intimate experience of American culture. These personal interactions also encourage international students and their American partners to learn about each others’ cultures.

Justine McCarty, international student adviser, and Beth Hunt, international student services graduate assistant, lead recruitment and programming activities for the International Friendship Program at MU. McCarty focuses more on connecting Columbia community members with the program, while Hunt promotes international friendships to students on MU’s campus. Both advisers believe that organizations like the International Friendship Program are essential in supporting global mindsets and endeavors among students.

“This program is a great opportunity for American participants and volunteers to get more involved with the international community here,” Hunt said. “International students bring a huge wealth of resources and knowledge, which is helpful as we become more globalized.”

To apply, both international students and community volunteers complete a simple online application. International Friendship Program pairs are matched at the beginning of each semester, and for spring 2015 the program has 60 pairs. The pairs meet at least once a month on their own, and can also attend special events organized by the program each semester.

The International Friendship Program also helps international students to alleviate the stress associated with handling new cultures and cross-cultural experiences. Pairs often meet for coffee or lunch to chat, and community volunteers often invite their international partners to sporting events, outings, family gatherings or holiday celebrations. Through the program, participants enjoy a greater sense of community and belonging, as well as a stronger social support group.

“I love learning about different cultures,” said Shekinah Doze, an MU student from Missouri. “I see this program as a way to make friends and connect with others who are different from me.

In addition to developing stronger understanding and appreciation for different cultures, program participants are able to form lasting friendships with members of the MU and Columbia communities.

“The statistics show that 80 percent of international students never enter the home of an American while studying in the U.S. for three or four years,” McCarty said. “We want to really crush that statistic.”

Gallery: International Friendship Program Trivia Night

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