UB residential program Global 360 connects roommates without borders
Global 360 aims to integratedomestic and international students with each other
Simeng Zhou, a senior political science major from Japan, said international students at UB tend to stick with students from their own countries and who speak their first languages.
Zhou said having an American roommate would help break that trend.
Starting in the fall, UB’s new housing program Global 360 will allow international and domestic students to choose to be paired as roommates to foster intercultural relationships. Residents will be housed on the second floor of Clement Hall on South Campus. The due date for the fall application has already passed, but the opportunity will be presented to students again for the spring 2016 semester.
Peter Smith, the assistant director for Residential Life, anticipates the program will benefit all students, both international and domestic.
“It encourages the interaction that I think many students want to have, the discussions about our global community,” Smith said.
With each new semester, UB continues to expand its enrollment of international students. More than 700 new international students joined UB’s growing international community of around 5,000 students last fall. UB is currently made up of about 17 percent international students.
Global 360, aside from housing students together, will also host events to facilitate learning and communication. One event proposed is a coffee and tea session with a guest speaker like a professor. After the guest speaks, students would be able to discuss the topics of the presentation together and gain a more global perspective. These discussions allow students to learn about other cultures and meet people of different nationalities.
Students will also go on trips throughout the City of Buffalo, such as visiting Niagara Falls, skiing and visiting the Botanical Gardens.
Zhou and Reimon Bhuyan, a senior aerospace engineering major from Japan, said the program will help open new doors for interactions between international and domestic students.
“It will be interesting in my opinion just knowing different cultures. UB itself is diverse and it will be an interesting thing to do,” Bhuyan said.
Bhuyan appreciates the many events on campus that help students of all cultures get involved and facilitate a more comfortable and easy adjustment to the United States.
Both Zhou and Bhuyan said they chose the university because of their major, but that having a campus that embraces diversity is a bonus.
Bhuyan and Zhou see Global 360 as an opportunity to help all students break out of their own comfort zones by creating bonds with people of different cultures. This is exactly what Smith hopes to achieve from the program – providing students an opportunity to gain a more global perspective that can be useful in any future endeavors.
Chris Bragdon, an adviser at International Student and Scholar Services, is involved in the Global 360 program through a focus on a more encompassing program called Building Relationships Involving Diverse Groups of Engaged Students (BRIDGES). The program allows both international and domestic students to participate in activities together while exploring global diversity.
One of those activities is Global Sports Day. The event gives students the opportunity to learn about sports such as football, rugby, cricket and soccer. UB athletes help students learn about the sports and how they’re played.
Bragdon hopes that Global 360 will allow students to think critically about similarities and differences in cultures while also growing from their experiences.
“Those walls are dropping, and by the end of that experience, suddenly there are friendships – friendships that wouldn’t have been there,” Bragdon said. “They’re realizing, ‘Jeez, in many ways we are from very different worlds, but we have been through so much. We’ve helped clean up a street on the south side, or we learned how to rock climb. Now we have this whole new bond.’ I think there’s a beauty in that.”
Applicants must complete the housing application online, pay UB’s $300 housing deposit and then check a box stating interest in the Global 360 program. There are also additional questions asked of applicants as part of the application process.
Marissa Fielding is a staff writer and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org