Coming to a new country can be a scary and difficult experience.

International Buccaneer Buddies is an organization that aims to bridge the gap between international students and American students.

IBB operates within the Honors College’s International Programs and Services and allows international students to sign up to receive an American student as their “ buc buddy,” as well as a host family in Johnson City so that they can experience a familial relationship far from home.

With the help of their American buddy, international students can feel more at home at ETSU and get the full experience of attending a university in America.

This year, over 200 ETSU students have been partnered with international students. Some of the countries represented in IBB include China, Nigeria, India, Saudi Arabia, Japan, France, Sweden and South Korea.

“My buddy from the US was a girl named Ellen,” said Kae Nishimura, an international student from Japan who studied at ETSU last year. “At the beginning, I thought it would be really hard to be involved in a new country with a new culture and with new people, but I was wrong. Even though there’s a language barrier, Ellen and her family made my life at ETSU much more meaningful and unforgettable.”

While IBB is seen as a tool to help International Students acclimate to ETSU, it also has a lasting effect on the American students who are partnered as “buddies.” Through IBB, students get to learn more about different cultures and customs that are practiced all over the world.

“I love being a buddy because it connected me to people who live on the other side of the world that I would never have been given the chance to meet had it not been for IBB,” said Hannah Ford, a sophomore at ETSU and an American buddy. “It’s just so amazing to learn about new cultures that I never even knew existed, much less that I would have been exposed to.”

Many of the American buddies still keep in contact with their international buddies even after they leave ETSU. Sophomore Madison Reavis still talks to her buddy, Fuki Azuma, from Japan regularly.

“Even though we are separated by countries, I still talk to them on a daily basis. I even have plans to visit them this summer!” Reavis said. “I look forward to meeting more buddies through IBB in the future.”

More information about IBB and applications to be an American buddy can be found on the International Programs and Services webpage.