A warm welcome to Birkbeck with Global Buddies

Autumn 2022 saw the largest Global Buddies programme to date. Our volunteers share their motivations for participating and their experiences of supporting our international student community.

Global buddies is a term long programme during which alumni volunteers buddy with international students during their first term of study. This term saw our largest programme to date, with almost 300 students and volunteers participating and we were delighted to have so many new and returning volunteers offer their support.

Global Buddies meetings can take place in person or online and new volunteer Akima McPherson was pleased to be able to volunteer virtually, explaining that “studying at Birkbeck was a wonderful experience for me. I appreciated all the support that was available from Birkbeck to help me succeed and wanted to support incoming international students to navigate life at Birkbeck and in London.”

MA History of Art graduate Akima was matched with MA Cultural and Critical studies student Thuvaja and they connected over their shared love of arts and culture. Akima drew upon her experience of using the Careers service to advise Thuvaja on finding opportunties during and after her studies,“because Thuvaja is interested in curating, I was able to direct her to a relevant website to contact UK curators. I advised her to speak with her tutors about industry opportunities and to explore whether any of her modules have an internship component.”

LLM Student Alberto was matched with Law graduate Philippe and discussed the positive impact Global Buddies had on his early Birkbeck experience:

“I had an amazing experience with my global buddy Philippe. He kindly arranged an unforgettable personal visit to Parliament Buildings in October and counselled me on many important aspects of student life in Britain. With that help in mind, I was able to navigate issues like accommodation and essay writing.”

Returning volunteer Christie Casale advised her student matches to access the study skills support and resources at Birkbeck, sharing how these played a key role in helping her overcome initial challenges with her course to completing her MA.

“It is great to be able to help someone achieve their dreams – for students in general, but especially for those coming from abroad, there is usually a lot at stake and expectations are high. Education is paramount, so helping people (however briefly) in their journey to achieve a degree is particularly rewarding.”