On Tuesday, Buddies Without Borders met in the Entertainment Center in the basement of the MUB, for its monthly luncheon during which domestic students paired with international students in order to help bridge gaps concerning cultural differences and language barriers.
Over 100 students are signed up for the program allowing for roughly 50 pairs of international and domestic students. The luncheon is just one of the two monthly meetings during which the students are encouraged to meet up, hang out, and catch up on the past few weeks.
This month’s luncheon was Irish themed, where programming coordinator and advisor Gillissen Green and international student advisor Thuy Nguyen of the Office of International Students & Scholars (OISS) prepared a delightful Irish-inspired slow cooked corned beef and cabbage dish along with a vegetarian side option, and of course, in keeping with Irish theme: gold coins.
Also, three members of the UNH Irish Dance team came to show a video of their soft sole 8-hand (Cieli) dance, as well as gave the attendees of the lunch a quick lesson on Irish step.
The Buddies Without Borders program establishes a symbiotic relationship between the international and domestic students, allowing both of them to benefit from the experience.
“Buddies Without Borders is a great program that brings people together despite different backgrounds. ‘Friends’ means something totally different in America than it does back home,” said sophomore Lisa Dittman, a German-born U.S. citizen.
“Domestic students really struggle to approach and communicate with international students, mostly due to the language barrier, which creates miscommunication and misconceptions, which inevitably make the situation worse,” said Jaya Dofe, international student from India.
“The program is really great because it allows us international students to discuss our personal issues and struggles we have getting assimilated, also, lots of the international students from different backgrounds meet here and can share some of the similar problems we have,” said Dofe.
On the other side, domestic students get something different out of the experience. According to Laurianne Posch, “the program is a way to continue living vicariously overseas after spending a semester abroad.”
“After going abroad you get a better understanding of what kinds of things the international students struggle with and I want to help like when I was abroad,” said Posch.
The program is definitely diverse, with international students hailing from all over, from the Netherlands to India and all other areas of Europe and Asia. There is no shortage of cultural boundaries that can be worked on and overcome between all sorts of countries.
“Today is one of the most crucial times for international relations, and here, we are able to openly discuss things and learn more about each other, to get a better understanding of each other which will help us live together not only on a small scale but a larger scale as well,” said Dofe.
The Buddies Without Borders program is not limited to monthly lunches. It looks into lots of Durham activities including a Campus Rec trip to hike Mount Major. Also, the group is planning a trip this Saturday to the Boston Museum of Science for those who haven’t had the opportunity to see it yet. The trip will cost 40 dollars and anyone can register on the Office of International Students & Scholars website.
Students may join the Buddies Without Borders Program on the OISS website as well.