iBuddy program resumes serving international students after pandemic

UCCS is home to many international students from nearly 60 countries, many of whom have no prior experience with the U.S. or its culture.

The International Buddy Program, also known as iBuddy, allows international students at UCCS to immerse themselves both in the culture of Colorado as well as the U.S. Their number one goal is to support international students who are finding their footing in a foreign country.

iBuddy president Tapasya Patel said the program is important for building a strong community for international students to help them acclimate to their new environment.

Even though iBuddy was created to help out international students on campus, it is still available to non-international students who would like to be a part of the community created here. The program is designed to help students acclimate to their new environment, international or not.

The program accomplishes this by giving students a “buddy” who helps them with things. These things can vary from finding good restaurants in the area or places to study to getting drivers licenses or setting up bank accounts.

Now that many COVID-19 regulations have eased up, iBuddy has been able to finally start engaging with international students in person again. The program has already hosted several events, including a hike to get international students introduced to the many people who work with the program.

In the next couple of months, iBuddy will organize a visit to the Garden of the Gods on Sept. 24 at 10 a.m. as well as a Mayor’s Reception on Oct. 15 at 2 p.m. These events are free to attend.

Much like many other clubs and programs on campus, the COVID-19 pandemic made continuing club operations difficult.

“It was tough to connect with students … and even if there were students, it was all online,” Patel said. “We were not very active during COVID because of weather and school regulations.”

iBuddy is led by only a handful of students. The small body of students who ran the program struggled to organize events with the added weight of school regulations.

Prior to the pandemic when Patel first joined the program as a student, she said that they would “go to Garden of the Gods to show international students around … we also used to go to the Air Force Academy for football games or to just go on tours.”

Patel recalled some of her favorite memories of when she was just a member of the organization as well. “Definitely the friends I made, and I love the feeling of seeing the new students, knowing exactly how they’re feeling since I was there and just telling them that it’s going to be okay and that we’re here for you.”

Students looking to get involved with the iBuddy program can find them on Mountain Lion Connect.

Photo caption: iBuddy Program president Tapasya Patel speaks on behalf of the international student program. Photo courtesy of Tapasya Patel.