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Monday, February 26, 2024

Student-run international mentorship program attracts hundreds of applicants

After its successful run in Fall Quarter 2012 through the International Students Club (ISC), the International Buddy Program saw its official beginning on Jan. 22 and Jan. 23 at program orientation. Sponsored by the Cross Cultural Center (CCC) Services for International Students and Scholars (SISS) and the ASUCD Outreach Assembly (OA), the program aims to provide a platform for international and domestic students to socialize.

As president of ISC at the time, ASUCD Senator Shehzad Lokhandwalla created the program out of inspiration from his own experience as an international student.

“One of my good friends, Ellen Liang, was kind enough to mentor [and accommodate me to] the United States,” Lokhandwalla said. “Being inspired by that, I decided to start a domestic-international program through my club.”

A total of 234 students applied to be a part of the mentorship program, 134 of them being domestic students. During a selection process that focused on finding enthusiastic students who wanted to learn more about new cultures, 174 were chosen to participate.

Moira Delgado of the SISS and Koby Rodriguez of the CCC led the orientations, discussing the ground rules for the program, such as respecting the Principles of Community. Each night had three parts, an icebreaker, program description and restrictions and culture training.

The International Buddy Program committee behind the planning and pairing of students is comprised of Lokhandwalla, his interns Jessica Reiter, Tia Nguyen and Yanlin Alice Li and Rylan Schaeffer.

Li is a second-year applied math major and international student, and she wanted to continue her involvement with the international community.

“International students don’t normally connect with domestic students because of the language barrier,” Li said. “This is a great opportunity for international students to step out of their comfort zones, as it’s a big encouragement to do so.”
Along with learning about different cultures and getting more involved on campus, students involved also have the opportunity to form friendships. Lokhandwalla believes that participants will continue to socialize with their buddies after the quarter-long program.

Nguyen, a second-year political science and sociology double major, got involved because of an interest in her own history.

“I’m a domestic student, but I thought the program was interesting because my parents were immigrants,” Nguyen said. “People are interested in learning about new cultures, and hopefully people can make lifelong friends through the program.”

In addition to orientation, one hour of commitment per week is required. At a final event at the end of the quarter, participants will be able to discuss what they learned and receive participant certificates signed by Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi.

The International Buddy Program is closed for winter 2014 and will not return spring 2014. Lokhandwalla hopes that the ASUCD International Undergraduate Committee (IUC) will be permanently institutionalized, as he wants the program to be sustainable and under its control in the future. On Feb. 14, ASUCD Senate will decide whether to terminate, extend or permanently institutionalize the IUC.

An official website is in the works, and until then, any inquiries can be directed toward Lokhandwalla at sslokhandwalla@ucdavis.edu.

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