Pittsburg State’s International Programs and Services kicked off the new semester by beginning their “Pitt Pals” program. The kickoff began at 7 p.m. on Jan. 18 in the Crimson and Gold Ballroom in the Overman Student Center. The program pairs American and international students together to form connections between cultures.
Brenda Hawkins, immigration and advising coordinator for International Programs and Services, helped organize the program and event.
“You are teaching us.” Hawkins said to the international Pitt Pals. “I learn from you every day. Your job is to share your culture.”
The night began with the American students arriving early to be given instructions and an overview of how the night would go and what was expected of them. Heaven Hutson, an undeclared freshman, first heard about the program through friends who had participated in it the previous semester. This was her first time participating in Pitt Pals, and she said she was very excited.
“I really just enjoy learning about the diversity in other countries and learning about the cultural differences,” Hutson said. “… and I would love to make new friends.”
Corbin Russell, a sophomore in mechanical engineering, hopes to study abroad in South Korea in the upcoming years.
“I want to get to know the culture a little better before I study abroad,” Russell said.
This was his third semester participating in the Pitt Pal program and said he believed learning about different cultures would make someone a “more well-rounded person”.
JunHo Jang ‘Nathan’, a junior in mechanical engineering, is an exchange student from South Korea. He hopes that joining Pitt Pals will help him improve his English-speaking skills as well as help him learn more about America.
“It’s really good because… this program makes me (speak English more),” said Jang. “I want to learn American culture, I want to meet many American peoples, and I want to share their (thinking).”
Jung also looks forward to being able to spend a lot of time with his Pitt Pal; eating with him and even hopefully working out together.
Jiawe Xu, a graduate student from China studying biology, said she found the time to get to know others very helpful.
“I joined because I want to make friends. I want to make locak friends,” Xu said.
The night was then filled with various games and activities designed to help all the participants get to know each other, including a bingo-like game where all the participants were given a sheet of paper with a list of traits and they must find another person in the whole room that fulfilled the characteristic to sign it.
The attendees were also given a presentation about the PSU Outdoor Activities Club (OAC), a popular club to join among international students. Although much of the night was intended to help students meet many other friends and students, at its core it was to encourage friendship between individual groups of Pitt Pals. The program is only a one semester commitment for each student, but Hawkins said she hoped the friendships created would be “…a lifelong commitment.”.