Connections program aims to break cross-cultural barriers

For students interested in expanding their social horizons, the International Education Center offers the Connections Program to bring international and American
students together on campus and in the community.

The Connections Program, coordinated by International Education Center intern and sophomore mass communication major Lucine Colignon, facilitates cross-cultural friendships by pairing together international and American students who apply for the program. New international students are partnered with current Georgia College students who have been on campus for at least one semester.

“With our program, you involve the time that you want. There aren’t any time requirements, you can meet where and when you want,” Colignon said. “Students sometimes go to dinner downtown or out for coffee. I know some people even
go to the lake, or a movie, or shopping.”

Most commonly,students spend time studying, playing sports, shopping, grabbing a bite to eat, attending cultural events or sharing holidays together.
“(The program) gives students an opportunity to get to know the community a little better, and it gives the students who are already here a chance to get to know another culture and another person,” said Liz Havey, study abroad adviser at the International Education Center.
Colignon bases student matches on shared hobbies, interests, goals or curiosity about a certain region of the world. According to Havey, “Sh makes a really concerted effort to try to connect people with common interests and common goals. They do try to puttogether people that are going to get along well and enjoy time together.”
“I have an interview and I try to get to know people,” Colignon said.
In her third semester with the Connections Program, sophomore business management major Jade Disque say the Connections Program does a great job putting people from other cultures in the position to get to know each other.

“The most rewarding part of the program is the satisfaction of knowing that you played a significant role in helping an international student feel welcome at Georgia College,” Disque said. “The program is also a safe way for international students to ask questions about American culture and to clear up any misconceptions that they have about life at an American university without being judged.”

The Connections Program also aids in encouraging interactions between people that might never get a chance to engage in conversation together.

“It really helps to make more connections with people who would probably not otherwise meet each other,” Havey said. “It’s a nice opportunity to develop another buddy, friend, person to be sociable with, to do things with.”

Dona Nguyen, sophomore chemistry major, thinks the program is a great program to have on campus. “We would have a lot to talk about – their culture, my culture as an American and my Asian heritage,” Nguyen said. “The main thing would be getting to talk to somebody about different perspectives, like different political or religious points of view. You could see things from another point of view. It’s always good to be open to that spark of new ideas.”

The Connections Program serves as a bridge for international students when entering life at Georgia College.

“I think it’s kind of a mutually beneficial support system for people who are looking to diversify their experience,” Havey said.

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