- Associated Press - Tuesday, September 23, 2014

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) - In an effort to bridge the gap between U.S.-born and international students on campus, the University of Iowa’s business school has started a program that pairs students with buddies for one semester.

International students at the university’s Tippie College of Business represented nearly a quarter of last year’s freshmen class, the Iowa City Press-Citizen reported (https://icp-c.com/1riwXVI ). The program, called International Buddies at Tippie, started last spring and groups business and pre-business undergraduates with the goal of helping international students assimilate into campus life.

Of Tippie’s international freshmen undergraduates, about 80 percent were from China, with the next largest group of students from South Korea and Malaysia.

“I think this is a really unique opportunity to expose those students to something totally different and to help them understand that the world is complicated and they’re going to have to work with people very different than themselves,” said Jennifer Blair, the assistant director of global community engagement for Tippie’s undergraduate programs.

The university also has other programs that attempt to foster friendships between U.S.-born and international students, such as its Global Buddies program.

A study last year by the college found international students felt less respected and had a less sense of belonging than U.S.-born students.

“I think some students don’t appreciate the extent to which international students do want to be a part of the culture here,” Blair said. “They’ve made a huge decision and sacrifice to do part of their education here.”

Blair said the idea to start International Buddies at Tippie started last year when she gathered 14 students to lead an advisory board for the business school’s international undergraduate programs. The Tippie program pairs students based on their major, interests, and following the introductory welcoming session, includes regular meetings and social events throughout the semester.

Yijun Huang, 20, is an accounting and finance student who has participated in the program. She plans to graduate in May.

“I think the biggest part of it is that you actually have a buddy with you and you can always reach her, by phone or by email, and you have someone you can talk to,” Huang said.

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Information from: Iowa City Press-Citizen, https://www.press-citizen.com/


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