Editorial: HuskyMates builds a better community

Multiple programs coordinated to create a new Residential Life program called HuskyMates. (Olivia Stenger/The Daily Campus)

This month, Huskies International and Education Abroad worked together to create a new program called HuskyMates. This program pairs native UConn students with one or two international students so that participants can learn about each other’s cultures and build new relationships, and international students can integrate better into the community.

UConn has a large number of international students. Over 3,000 international students are enrolled at the university including the Storrs and regional campuses, and the number has been consistently growing. In 2008, the university had 1,585 international students. This number grew, becoming 2,175 in 2012. In Fall 2016, the university had 2,555 international students registered. This program to help the integration of international students into the university is especially important considering the consistent growth in the international community.

The application process ended earlier this month. After its completion, 45 students were paired, which is a positive turnout for the first semester.  Those who applied and were not paired were invited to participate through involvement in HuskyMates and Husky International. Their activities include local activities such as ice skating, sledding on Horsebarn Hill and dinners at the dining hall as well as larger trips such as a trip to Boston this semester.

This program does not just aid those in the international community, but it helps the American members of the program as well. This group provides the opportunity to learn about others cultures. While some students receive this opportunity through studying abroad, this is a good option for those who were unable to or wish to learn about another culture while in the US. This initiative aims to improve the university experience for all of its members through new relationships and learning about various cultures throughout the world.

With the growing international community at this university, HuskyMates shows student interest to grow and help the community. The small startup group will hopefully grow into a prosperous program in the coming semesters. This program helps display UConn’s commitment to being an international research university. A shared knowledge of cultures and the empathy that nurtures will help our university become a better community.