Domestic students and international students met their Pitt Pals partners during the Pitt Pals kick-off on Jan. 24. Pitt Pals is a program that matches up domestic students with new international students. The Pitt Pal kick off started the international student’s first semester by matching them up with a domestic student.
“I think international students are just looking for that American friendship,” said Brenda Hawkins, immigration and advisement coordinator for International Program and Services, who organized the event. “…because that’s why they come here to study, they want to learn about culture, so they’re just excited to have someone that’s willing to share a little bit of their life, and maybe their family’s life with them,”
The Pitt Pal kick off was a way to break the ice between the pairs, and help the new students meet new people.
“It was really fun,” said Jillian Sinosa said, sophomore in nursing. “I was really nervous at first, we played a lot of games, and we really clicked.”
This is Jillian’s first year being a Pitt Pal.
“I actually met her before at the organization fair,” she said. “I was at a booth, and she was interested in that booth, so it’s funny how we were paired together at the ceremony, we were just laughing about it and she said it was density.”
The Pitt Pal program was created to help welcome international students at Pitt State.
“I think that’s a good way to connect with people for foreigners, because we meet someone from here, learn their culture, and go somewhere that we wouldn’t know that exist otherwise, I think it’s a good connection to make friendships that last longer,” said Theo Gomcaldes, senior in business.
Gomcaldes is an international student from Brazil, and this is his first semester at Pitt State.
“It helps make friendships, and mainly kind of help us because we’re far from home, we’re far from friends, and this kind of connection is good, it makes us feel comfortable, so I really like it,” Gomcaldes said.
One of Pitt Pal’s goals is to help students understand each other’s culture.
“I think learning about their culture and at the same time teaching them about American culture, and learning (is important),” Sinoa said. “New experiences, and being a mentor to them, helping them write, just being like a friend.”
This semester, there were about 45-50 pairs of students paired together.
According to Hawkins, there are multiple reasons the Pitt Pal program was created.
“It is a great way for domestic students to be able to welcome someone from a different country to our culture,” she said. “…especially to the Midwest culture, even more particularly, to southeast Kansas culture, and to Pittsburg and to Pitt State.”
Pitt Pals restarts each semester, and each semester domestic students can sign up to be a Pitt Pal.
“I think it is also a great opportunity for our domestic students to learn about another country,” Hawkins said. “We have a lot of our domestic students that decide to study abroad, do so because they’ve had an opportunity to learn about different cultures and it makes them think about something they might not have considered before.”