Office of International Education Launches Global Friends Program

October 12, 2016

This fall semester the OIE has launched a new program called Global Friends, or gFriends. It is a student program that promotes cultural integration among ESU students through friendship. It is specifically designed for new international students to assist with their cultural adjustment during their first year in ESU and cultural preparation for students wishing to study or work abroad.

“It’s a great opportunity for students to learn and share,” Rozita Smith, director of international student and scholars services, said when asked why she created this program. “gFriends is not for students who want to improve their English. We have conversation partners for that. gFriends is to help new international students adjust to American life and build a friendship with someone equally interested in learning about their culture.”

With 55 countries represented in the student body on campus, one goal of this program is to foster global awareness. New international students are paired up with returning ESU students (international or domestic). Students interested in studying abroad can also be paired up with someone from or knowledgeable about that culture.

Being a part of gFriends can also help students develop competency and leadership in cross-culture environments. “The workplace is becoming more globalized and it’s important everyone learn how to interact with people from different cultures,” Rozita said.

Students that are either taking a course related to multiculturalism or interested in expanding their experience with diverse populations for professional or personal development are also encouraged to participate. Rozita believes this program can enhance the classroom experience for students in classes like Multicultural Communication or the language classes.

Participants are encouraged to sign up and commit to at least one semester. Throughout the semester, the gFriends are encouraged to meet in person and communicate via social media or some other form of web communication regularly. During these meetups, they are encouraged to share about various aspects of their cultures or simply teach other common phrases from the respective culture. gFriends can further enhance the experience by introducing each other to other friends or networks.

To sign up and learn more, students can visit: http://www.emporia.edu/oie/current-students/gfriends.html or fill out a form in the Office of International Education.

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