International, American students pair up

Culture Exchange helps students grow friendships, overcome loneliness

By Christian Hunick
On September 28, 2018

Photo by Sydney Faison: from left Suwon Gwak, Lainey Harris, Jiwon Jeun and Chaesun Eom bond over a game of Jenga at the Culture Exchange fall orientation.

Culture Exchange is student organization that helps make the transition to ASU life easier for international students.

The organization was founded in 2015 with the goals of bridging the gap between international and American students at ASU, promoting the exchange of culture and ideas, providing a volunteer and community service opportunity and fostering friendships.

The organization accomplishes these goals through a buddy program: each international student who joins is paired with an American student.

The arrangement helps international students overcome the culture shock and loneliness involved with attending school in a foreign country.

American students benefit from the program by learning more about their buddies’ cultures and developing new friendships. Participating in the program can also earn them volunteer or community service hours.

Cultural Exchange President Destiny Chapman said that there aren’t many requirements for volunteering with Culture Exchange.

"We just ask that you try to meet with your buddy at least once a week if possible," Chapman said. "That adds up to a total of 20 hours throughout the semester."

The hours count as volunteer hours for students.

Events are also held at several points in the semester.

"The events are optional, but it’s a great way for you to get out and do something with your buddy and also meet the other buddies in the organization," Chapman said.

Some of the planned events include a cooking night in Carr Hall on Oct. 4, a Halloween party on Oct. 18 and an end-of-semester banquet.

Freshman Alex Lozano was one of the students who attended Culture Exchange Orientation on September 20 to meet his new buddy.

"It’s great that schools are blending cultures and making the world less divided," Lozano said.

Gwang Seong Cho, freshman, said he is hoping the buddy program will help him make new friends.

"I joined the buddy program because I wanted to make a friend in America," Cho said. "I only came here one month ago, and that is not enough time to make a friend."

The duration for the buddy program is kept to one semester for new international students so that incoming international students have the opportunity to participate as well; however, students are still encouraged to hang out with previous buddies after the semester ends.

Students can follow exchange_asu on Instagram for pictures and announcements from Culture Exchange or join their Facebook group "The Culture Exchange at Angelo State."

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