What is it
Connections is a volunteer cross-cultural friendship program that matches GC international students with local individuals or families. Students and the Connections partners arrange to get together on an occasional basis to share a meal, sightsee, attend concerts and sports events, or enjoy whatever activities interests the individuals involved.
The Local Connection
Connections partners are people in the community who are interested in meeting people from other countries and welcoming newcomers to their community. A variety of people volunteer to participate with Connections. Your Local Connection may be an individual or large family, an older retiree, or a young couple with or without children. Many work at the university, and others work in the community. Some may have traveled abroad before and may be familiar with your country; others may have no international experience.
You and your Connections partner are free to decide what activities to share – enjoying a meal together, boating on the lake, watching a movie, etc. Ideally, the relationship should be a mutual exchange where both parties share and learn from each other. Perhaps your Local Connection can teach you about American culture or give advice on buying a car. Perhaps you can cook a meal from your country for your Local Connection or teach some words from your language.
It is important to understand that both you and your Local Connection have busy schedules and that it is probably impossible to see each other all of the time. Many Local Connections may have family and job responsibilities that occupy a large part of their week. A good goal would be to try and get together once a month.
Understanding the Role of your Local Connection
Hopefully, you may be able to learn a little bit more about American culture from your Connection, and develop a valuable friendship. Your Local Connection may also be able to assist with questions that arise about day-to-day needs, such as where to find a good dentist or barber, or suggestions on buying a used car.
Your Connections partner is NOT someone who can provide housing or financial support for you. It is not appropriate to ask your partner for a loan or to co-sign a lease or loan application. If you experience financial, medical, legal or immigration problems or questions, you should discuss these with the International Center.
How to make a Connection
If you are interested in participating in the Connections program, please complete a request form and submit it to the International Center. Please email IEC@gcsu.edu for a request form. We will do our best to match you with a Connections partner that shares your interests, but we may not be able to match you with an exact request. When a match is found, we will notify you and your local Connections partner. At that point, we leave it up to you and your Connections partner to contact each other and arrange a time to meet. Together you can decide what activities to share. Perhaps your Connections partner might invite you to his/her/their home, or maybe you will arrange to go out to a local restaurant. Or perhaps you all can go shopping or to a sports or cultural event on campus. Enjoy!