Integrating oneself into a brand new culture is never easy. When it comes to non-local students, what they need above all is a companion who can share real life experiences and selflessly provide the best advice on how to fit in. To support the students, the International Friends Club (IFC) is the perfect platform. There are passionate IFC buddies who are more than willing to dedicate their time and energy to creating a “home” for international students. Other than helping in the orientation for non-local students such as campus tours and city excursion, they also create mind-blowing cultural events like watching the “Fire Dragon Dance” and wrapping dumplings. IFC buddies also consider themselves lucky, as the programme allows them to participate in life-changing experiences and build lifelong friendship.
Growth as a global citizen
Rachel: As buddies, we are the ones who take active roles in terms of bridging the gaps experienced by exchange students, so we must be prepared. I personally pay more attention than ever to international issues so that there are lots of common topics that I can discuss with the exchange students. This process has also really expanded my vision of the world.
Enhanced cultural awareness
Angie: There was once an occasion when I helped an exchange friend to buy ingredients for a Korean dish. I was confused by the amount of meat he wanted, and the mathematical units. I was busy converting kilograms into catty and catty into something else. It was definitely a fun and challenging experience.
Look before you leap
Paper: It’s important to think with empathy and sensitivity before acting. You need to be aware of whether a topic will offend your mates, and whether the restaurant you choose is fine with everybody’s tastes. After all, they are from different cultural backgrounds, and you do not want to hurt their feelings.
Appreciation for local culture and developing a sense of belonging
Paper: “MK” is a significant cultural element in Hong Kong. We showed the exchange students a local MK band named “Bird of Paradise” to explain the culture, and they couldn’t stop themselves from saying “Awesome”!
A chance for personal development
Angie: Buddies are like CityU ambassadors to the exchange students, so escorting skills are involved. You learn how to conduct yourself among different people, and get to know the etiquettes of different nations.
Developing a broad range of teamwork and collaboration skills makes it easier to get along with people, and thus it is one of the most valuable lessons buddies learn. There are too many stories to tell about IFC, and words are inadequate to express its benefits. Experiences and friends await! Send an email to the Global Services Office (GSO) at email@example.com if you are interested in being a part of this exciting and diverse club.