The International Student Union (ISU) hosted its first Language Exchange Buddy Program of the 2019 – 2020 school year on Monday, October 14 to promote both cultural exchange and language learning for domestic and international students. Over 50 full-time and exchange students from Peking University, Tsinghua University, and Harbin Institute of Technology attended the event, which was held at the Peking University HSBC Business School (PHBS) in room 313. Attendees hailed from all corners of the world: including Brazil, Russia, China, Taiwan, India, Malaysia, Italy, Portugal, Germany, France, Belgium, Malaysia and the USA.
The Language Exchange Buddy Program was formerly created by ISU in the 2018 – 2019 Academic Year as a way for domestic and international students to connect with each other. With the stated goals of practicing language competencies, as well as encouraging intercultural sensitivity by bridging the gap between domestic and international students, the program has been running successfully since last year.
The Monday event was a sensation given the large turnout of students from each school. Prior to taking part in the event, participants were asked to fill out a survey on their buddy preferences in terms of gender, spoken languages and languages they wish to learn.
During the course of the evening, students engaged in a variety of planned activities, such as fun ice-breaker games and group conversations. During the activities, they discovered their diverse personal identities, which include different cultural backgrounds, experiences and hobbies. Students had open discussions with their assigned buddies, and also integrated with other participants of the program in groups of 4-6 students to enhance the exchange of cultures, languages and common interests.
As the Language Exchange Buddy Program is not a mandatory event, members are not obliged to meet on a set schedule. Rather, partakers are encouraged to take the initiative to arrange one-on-one or group meetings, study events, and social gatherings throughout the year. The ISU Committee plans to have tasks and events to recommend to the pairs to facilitate and further incentivize these meetings. What’s more, groups that meet regularly and accomplish the suggested activities will be rewarded with fun prizes!
Given the high initial turnout to the inaugural event and excitement surrounding the program, the Language Buddy Program seems to be yet again another great achievement. Reports that many groups have already met to study indicates that this year will be one of high inclusivity and integration between the multicultural students at the Peking University Shenzhen Graduate School.
By Rebecca Frebortova