The Buddy Program opens the door to American culture in the easiest way possible through offering trips to museums, mountains and sports events and the opportunity to make friends from different countries while you are getting your studies done.
The buddy program is one of many programs at the University of Arizona that creates a space where students can get to know other students while together visit different places around Tucson. It is a collaboration between International Student Services and the Study Abroad offices with the idea of creating a global community.
Noelle Sallaz is the associate director for the ISS offices and oversees the Buddy Program. Sallaz has been working at the University of Arizona since 2006. The Buddy Program has existed in previous years with the same mission of connecting international and local students.
According to Sallaz, the Buddy Program is an opportunity for new students to make friends.
“It is difficult to make friends, especially if you are new to a country,” Sallaz said.
The program offers easy access for students to visit or explore places in Tucson.
“We try to do things that are very cultural," Sallaz said. "American culture, but also local culture."
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Shiraz Kamran Siddiqi, a global ambassador from Pakistan, mentions that the Buddy Program is looking forward to creating a global community where everyone has the chance to share their experiences.
“It [the Buddy Program] helps to connect different people from different backgrounds,” said Siddiqi. “It helps international students who don't know anyone here in Tucson, Arizona, or the U.S. to make friends.”
As a global ambassador, Siddiqi helps engage students to get involved in the American culture.
“We [Global ambassadors] need to be sure [to] either know the exact answer to their questions or to know where to direct them, so they can get clarity and get their questions answered,” said Siddiqi, who is pursuing a master’s in engineering management.
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Alsa Munaqiah, a global ambassador from Indonesia, was a member of the Buddy Program before she became a global ambassador.
“I love the Buddy Program because it really gives me the chance to get to know people from around the world,” Munaqiah said.
According to Munaqiah, who is currently a junior double majoring in finance and management information systems, the Buddy Program expands networks and encourages students to get to know others on a deeper level.
“Most of my closest friends are people who I know either from the Buddy Program or the Global Ambassador Program,” Munaqiah said.
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How to Sign Up
To be part of the Buddy Program, you have to be a student enrolled at the UA. Sallaz explained that there is an application form online on the ISS and Study Abroad Websites. Although the application deadline has passed, ISS is still accepting applications.
Once you fill out the application form, you will receive an email with the name of your group, and you can join on Friday, Jan. 24 for the welcome event.
Global ambassadors use WhatsApp for communication. In this way, they can send information about events or activities and how to sign up.
“If you are not sure about the Buddy Program, just come and try it." Sallaz said. "Just come to one of our events and see if it is something that you like. We are really a welcoming community."
Quick Sign Up
According to Siddiqi, a negative aspect of the Buddy Program is that tickets or passes are limited for each event, so students should keep checking WhatsApp to see if their global ambassador has sent any event information.
Additionally, Munaqiah adds that it will be better if the program had more domestic students because the overall idea of the Buddy Program is that internationals can adjust themselves to American culture.
“Getting more domestic students involved will be more beneficial for the international students,” Munaqiah said.
Some of the activities the Buddy Program has for Spring 2020 are:
- Welcome event in the Game Room at the Student Union Memorial Center on Friday, Jan. 24 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. This event will be the first opportunity for students to get to know people.
- On Saturday, Jan. 25 from 5 to 7 p.m, the UA Global Center will do a Cocoa and Cacti Painting Night, an opportunity to create/paint a desert scene while enjoying snacks like churros, hot cocoa and more.
- Feb. 8: The NBA International Night SUNS will be in Phoenix. Transportation will be provided.
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