UTAS Community Friendship Pilot Programme
A new landscape, a new language, new food – sounds enticing? While most of us long for these things on a holiday, they can be some of the most challenging experiences for a newly arrived student to UTAS. Making friends, finding one’s way around, getting networked into the community can leave a new arrival lost and alone.
In March, 2009, the Business Faculty, International Services and Student Services launched the pilot of the Community Friendship Programme. The programme aims to profile new non-local students at UTAS and match them with volunteers in the community. They are then encouraged to find opportunities to get together - whether for a chat over coffee, a bushwalk, or a Sunday family lunch - to share some everyday life experiences.
While the programme is open to any UTAS student from regional Tasmania and interstate, the majority of the applicants are from overseas.
There is a trend for international students only to make friends amongst themselves, where they can feel secure in their own language. While this offers short term comfort, it often makes reaching out later much more difficult. Many students return to their home without ever having experienced mum’s Sunday roast, a BBQ, or a house warming party. Making local connections early on can help with an endless number of complications: what food to buy, how to connect services, transport availability amongst other things.
The Community Friendship Programme has an impact at many levels. Not only do students from abroad have opportunities to integrate into the local community, but locals can expand their horizons and gain some direct experiences with people from other places. The programme also seeks to promote the University as a provider of rewarding higher education, and an agent of exchange, inclusion and growth in the broader Australian and international markets.
RESEARCH & FEES