Buddy Program, a participatory approach to cross-cultural adjustment of international students

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Ilagan, Patricia
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International students face many difficulties when they study overseas. Some of these difficulties include language, finances, and adjustment to a new educational, social, and cultural environment. Adaptation to a new environment becomes easier when students enjoy support from educational institutions. It is then necessary for the receiving institution to develop programs that will ease the adjustment process of international students particularly during the critical initial months of their stay. Also, it is equally important for institutions to develop programs that involve the students and individuals who are in close contact with them. TheInternational Centre for Students provides various support to international students from the moment they are accepted to the university until they complete their program. However, prior to the establishment of the Buddy Program in 1995, there was no program at the Centre that provided a continuing support to international students in cross-cultural adjustment. The purpose of this practicum is to design a peer support or a Buddy Program that is participatory and continuing and that will address the cross-cultural adjustment difficulties of international students at the University of Manitoba. This included interviewing international students and individuals who are involved with the education and well-being of international students, meeting with the students and asking them to fill out a rating scale about their participation with the program. The results of the study revealed that the Buddy Program had greatly contributed to the cross-cultural adjustment process of international studen s. It provided opportunity for them to have access to somebody for information they need during the initial adjustment period, to interact or develop friendships with Canadians and individuals from other cultures, and to become aware of and appreciate other cultures.