The International Student Center’s recent “speed-friending” social mixer on Feb. 6 yielded a positive response from both the international and American participants alike.
This was the first event of its kind where international students studying at Fullerton College on an F-1 visa met with members of California Cousins, an ISC run program that pairs new international students with an FC student mentor to help with the transition.
Participants were given a set of sample questions to get the conversation going and had five minutes to communicate with their partner before switching to the next person. Though the event may sound rigidly structured, the setup allowed for interesting conversation.
“I feel like in that setting, you feel more comfortable in sharing for some reason because generally around campus, you have to maintain a certain composure,” said Jack Lam, an international student. “In that room, everyone is speaking aloud and you just have one person and nobody else is paying attention to you. It doesn’t really matter and you can say whatever you want.”
For Lam, social events like this along with assistance from the ISC, made transitioning to a new country less daunting.
“It makes us feel less alone and makes us feel less lost in getting our bearing and getting our footing in a foreign country,” Lam said.
Conversely, the California Cousins saw the social mixer as beneficial in getting to know their “mentees.”
“[Talking] to someone is genuinely more responsive than emailing, texting or calling,” said Sally Kim of California Cousins. “Actually seeing the person face to face and having the chance to talk was really important.”
Kim hoped that the “speed friending” mixer would become an ongoing tradition for ISC because it helps both international students and California Cousins.
“These are international students who have interest in these events and to have the experience with them face to face and not just a name on a piece of paper,” Kim said.
This event pioneered a new way for international students to get in touch with and interact with their California Cousins.
“Last year I don’t think we had that much events as California Cousins,” said Jamie See with the program. “We just had field trips but not like this speed dating thing so it’s pretty good to [get to] know one another.”
As an international student herself, See believed that social mixer events like this make forming meaningful relationships between international students and their mentors more feasible.
“When I just got here, I didn’t have any friends but through that event I could have started talking to people and know how they are like,” See said. “If we become friends, we can exchange contact information and we can take care of each other when we’re on campus during the weekdays.”
With the generally positive response the “speed-friending” event received, it is very likely that cousins and international students will use this method in the future.
ISC is located in room 220 and open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.