Boston University’s School of Management sponsors the SMG Student Ambassadors program to acclimate exchange students to the U.S. and smooth their transition to a new learning environment, SMG officials said.
Just over a month since the program’s inception, students involved said they are incredibly happy with the opportunities offered for meeting people and learning about Boston.
“My predecessor had started by having events and bringing the exchange students in for pizza,” said Faith Nussbaum, assistant director of SMG’s Undergraduate Program. “Students were receptive to the idea.”
Although Nussbaum started the program in December, she said she considers it a student-run organization.
“I will just be an advisor,” Nussbaum said. “[The] students can run the student clubs.”
Nussbaum said the program’s goal is for the ambassadors to introduce their exchange students to the campus and the city, and to help them with anything they do not understand. The program is available only to exchange students taking at least one course in SMG or economics.
Jeffrey Furnam, a strategy and innovation professor, said the program brings benefits to the ambassadors as well as the students because it helps ambassadors become familiar with a new culture that can help them excel in international business.
“In general we’d like to improve our students’ understanding of global cultures,” Furman said. “It would be great to have more exchange students in [SMG], and also to have them more deeply integrated into student social life in a way that’s facilitated by a program like the ambassador program.”
Furnam said the ambassadors experience the U.S. through the eyes of an exchange student.
“They get that in part by dealing with students who are not from the U.S. — who are in the four-year curriculum — but they’re going to get additional perspective from those who are only in it for a brief time,” Furnam said.
Jiaxin Lin, the SMG Ambassadors secretary, said ambassadors are required to meet with their students twice a month.
Lin, an SMG freshman, said the goal of the program is to help exchange students become involved in the school and the local culture.
“Talking to different people and learning different cultures is basically what this is for,” Lin said.
Lin’s exchange student, Safa Yerliyurt, an SMG junior from Turkey, said he was eager when he first learned about the club.
He said he recently sent an email advising his school at home to incorporate a similar system to help its incoming exchange students adjust to the new setting.
“When I was in Turkey I saw first Faith’s email, and she explained the program and she asked me if I wanted to join,” Yerliyurt said. “I had no idea about the campus life — I said I wanted to join immediately.”
Constance Remy, one of the co-heads of SMG Ambassadors in the second year of her four-year exchange program, said a couple of months passed before she found a café she liked.
“If I had the opportunity to have somebody already here to [show me] how everything functions, it would have been awesome,” Remy, an SMG sophomore said. “[Being an ambassador] is not complicated, it’s just being there for someone.”