Pitt Pal’s hosted their first event of the fall 2018 semester “Pitt Pal Kickoff” Friday, Aug. 24, from 7 to 9 p.m. in the Crimson and Gold Ballroom of the Overman Student Center. Pitt Pals is a program that pairs domestic students with international students to communicate and share their cultures, traditions, food, manners, and more in order to build a conducive learning experience as well as respect and appreciation for each other’s backgrounds.
For the kickoff, around 90 domestic students met with their international student counterparts from various different countries and participated in several fun games and activities.
“Learning about new cultures and meeting people from different cultures is my interest, so I thought this would be a good way to get new friends with and learn about their cultures,” said Emily Ruble, sophomore in communication.
Ruble lived overseas and grew up in China. She speaks three languages: Mandarin, Chinese, and English.
“I find it quite easy to meet friends from other cultures,” Ruble said. “I think it just makes you more aware … about like different traditions, the way people think, the way people act different in different cultures.”
Emily Jardes, junior in international business, is one of the many PSU students involved in Pitt Pals and encourages others to join.
“I know how terrifying it is to be on the other end of this and I thought if I can help them have an easier transition into America and our culture I think that would be a cool impact to have on them,” Jardes said. “We are interconnected world and if we ignore other cultures we won’t have the experience that they have and we can’t bring their ideas to a table; it makes us a lot more closed-minded to ignore it, so going to other places, experiencing what their life is like … it makes you just more appreciative either for you to have or see their ideas and bringing them to our country is a great way to exchange ideas and everything.”
Ellen Long, senior in history, joined after influence of a family member.
“I heard about it last semester after my cousin worked in the international student’s office, so she learned about it through her office work … we both just decided it would be a great opportunity to meet people,” Long said.
For Long, she believes technology plays a great factor in connecting people around the world.
“We are so connected with the technology, so we see each other all the time, so I think it is important to learn about each other so we don’t have like misconceptions … about each other or think something wrong about each other,” Long said.
For some students visiting from another country, they may face difficulties when making friends and overcoming cultural barriers, as Anali Otazo, junior in communication, described.
“It’s been harder to make friends in the American community just because they are kind of a little bit more reserved, they told us doing the orientation week we have to come to them, do you want to come to us.”
Brenda Hawkins, Administrative specialist for the international program and services, said, “we encourage students to sign up as a Pitt Pal and we connect them together in interesting events and activities that may involve their cultures and expose them to other cultures, food, languages, sports and more,” Otazo said.
The main event Pitt Pal hosts every fall semester is the upcoming Pumpkin Carving in October to encourage both International and American students to get involved, learn something new, and expose students to a new culture and point of view.
Both American and international students can sign up to become a Pitt Pal by visiting the international page at Pitt State website or the International Office in 118 Whitesitt.